Every year we hear reminders to “shop local.” Some people heed them, but others ignore them, preferring to rack up bargains online. Hey, there’s no doubt that online shopping offers a world of choices. The selection of goods is practically infinite – everything from food to furniture, clothes to carpeting.
But there are a few things you still can’t purchase online, and one of them is a strong local economy. And while retail isn’t the entirety of the local economy, it’s a very critical part. People wander through stores in their home town, look over the goods and mumble, “Gee, I can get that cheaper online.” And probably they can, at least some of the time.
But there are good reasons that merchandise in local shops may cost a bit more. Those retailers are paying local sales and property taxes. They’re providing jobs for people right here, not at some giant Amazonian anthill on the right or left coast. And, most importantly, they’re supporting our community.
Think about it. Where do you turn when you want a sponsor for your documentary film showing, your concert, your forum? You turn to the local business community, not to some mega-company that you can’t even reach on the telephone. When was the last time Amazon or Wayfair sponsored the Cortez Parade of Lights, fireworks in the park, an author’s appearance at the library, or a high-school play?
How you spend your money demonstrates what you care about. If you truly care about a vibrant downtown, you shop downtown at least some of the time. If you want a variety of jobs to be available in your small municipality, you support local businesses. If you want local news, you contribute in some way to the outlets that provide it – you subscribe, underwrite, advertise. If you enjoy live music, you pay to see local bands and concerts.
It isn’t torture, after all, to be a friend to your community. It’s fun to browse the bookshelves at Books in Cortez or Maria’s in Durango, and you’ll find things you would never come across online. It’s fun to dine out at any of the great eateries in downtown Cortez, savor a scrumptious breakfast from the Absolute Bakery and Café in Mancos, or head up to the Dolores River Brewery for pizza, beer, and a “selfish salad” – heaven!
This Christmas season, there are dozens of delightful gifts you could give that come from local businesses and enterprises. How about a beautiful plant or decoration from Cliffrose, chocolates or ice cream from Moose & More, a ticket to an event in the SouthWest Colorado Concert series or one at the Sunflower Theatre?
Get pictures of your children, precious grandchildren or precocious pets framed at Custom Calligraphy in Mancos. Give a gift certificate for a session with a local massage therapist or yoga instructor, or a membership in the Cortez Rec Center. Buy an Make someone a meal with local foods from Dolores Food Market. For the cannabis-minded on your list, stuff their stockings with edible treats from the Doobie Sisters.
And if you and yours have enough in the way of material goods, you can always make a donation in someone else’s name to any of our many worthy local nonprofits.
So, yes, enjoy yourself this season. Do a little shopping online, travel to Farmington or Montrose and walk through the malls.
But don’t forget to support the merchants who are the glue that holds your hometown together.
Shop local, too.