Guest written by Tabatha Duvall
Christmas shopping — the best part of the season and the worst part of the season. Giving is the true meaning of the season, but fighting crowds, monitoring sales and stalking parking spots makes us wonder if it’s worth getting out in the cold. Honestly, the introvert in me has won out many times and off to Amazon.com I went.
However, after taking the position of Membership and Sales Director at the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce, I’ve been able to see the direct effect of spending our dollars at home. This year, I plan on doing all of my Christmas shopping locally. Taking the state of our economy into consideration, buying local could be the best decision we as shoppers make this season.
There is a growing following for the “Shop Local” movement, and for good reason. Utilizing our local businesses is the groundwork for keeping our economy and our community healthy, and it was reported by the National Retail Federation that 20-40 percent of sales in small and mid-size retailers happen in the last two months of the year.
At the very basic level, when you spend money in your community, more money stays in your community. According to a 2008 Civic Economics study, 68 cents of every dollar spent in your town will remain in the town.
Chances are the small businesses we’re shopping in aren’t making a huge profit, but recirculating those 68 cents into their cities. With our current economy, job creation is a major talking point and support of our local businesses can help provide new jobs and keep the ones we have secure. Local shops are twice as likely to use other local businesses including architects, designers, cabinet shops, sign makers and contractors for construction. Local accountants, insurance brokers, computer consultants, attorneys, and advertising agencies help ensure the shops run smoothly. A percentage of sales go to local taxes supporting our schools, our transportation, our parks and our safety, as well as putting money in the pockets of our teachers, drivers, park rangers and emergency workers. Small businesses are more likely to carry a higher percentage of locally produced goods than chains, meaning more jobs for local producers. More people inside the community are able to reap the benefits this money can provide. These businesses are the ones employing our friends, family and neighbors keeping them financially secure and giving them the ability to reinvest their wages back into the local economy.
Local business owners living in the community are less likely to leave and are more invested in the community’s future. They are our decision makers — sitting on our city councils, school boards, nonprofit boards and sponsoring our little league teams and community events like the RussVegas Half-Marathon and Relay For Life. Because they have so much vested in the community’s long-term health, they make their decisions carefully and personally feel the impact of those decisions.
Though our local shops may individually carry a smaller variety of products and gifts, this creates a diversity and community culture unique to Russellville and surrounding areas. When asked about your favorite shop or restaurant, chances are it’s a local unique entity, and our Best of the Best lists reflect that. Feltner’s Whattaburger and C.J.’s Butcher Boy are both recognized regionally for their burgers and have both become symbols of Russellville and our community culture. Millyn’s in Dardanelle is a staple for bridal registries throughout the River Valley. No matter where you call home, these and other small locally owned businesses help provide identity to our communities, but we often forget their survival depends on our patronage.
In 2012, a Google Consumer Survey found one-fourth of consumers purchased gifts from a retailer they had never shopped with before, and I urge you to do the same. The diversity of our retailers guarantees unique gifts for our loved ones while supporting our neighbors and our community culture. The River Valley has options for your father who’s a hunter, little brother who’s a musician, mother who’s a baker, best friend who is a fashionista and everyone in between. Your local chambers of commerce would be a great resource to find listings for your local businesses. This year, take a stand for your community and shop locally. It’s worth every penny.
Guest written by Tabatha Duvall