Whats Happenening Locally

The benefits of shopping local during the holiday season

Sep 22, 2023

Millions of people enjoy shopping for gifts and loved ones each holiday season. The spirit of giving is alive and well each December, and that can extend to giving back to one's own community.

In addition to supporting local charities when making donations during the holiday season, shoppers can patronize small local businesses over big box retailers and national chains. The decision to do so can benefit communities in myriad ways.

* Small businesses inspire young entrepreneurs. The United States Department of Commerce reports that nearly half of all small business owners in the U.S. in 2018 were 54 or younger. Six percent of those owners were 34 and under. Young entrepreneurs at the helm of thriving local businesses provide inspiration to the next generation of innovators.

* Thriving small business owners can send a positive message to traditionally underrepresented groups. The National Women's Business Council Annual Report for 2022 indicated women-owned employer firms increased by nearly 17 percent between 2012 and 2019. Similarly, the U.S. Census Bureau's 2021 Annual Business Survey found that there were more Hispanic-owned and minority-owned businesses in various sectors than a decade earlier. The success of women- and minority-owned businesses sends a positive message to young entrepreneurs and locals who are part of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in business. That can help to create a more diverse and inclusive Main Street, the success of which depends heavily on locals' willingness to patronize locally-owned businesses.

* Shopping local supports many small business owners. Family meals and social gatherings with friends and coworkers are a big part of the holiday season, and it's not uncommon to break bread and share a few drinks during a night on the town. Choosing to gather at a locally owned restaurant or tavern instead of a chain restaurant can have a ripple effect on an assortment of local businesses. Local restaurants often source their ingredients from local farms. A family meal at such a restaurant benefits both the restaurant owner and the hardworking local suppliers of the food that ends up on the plate. Local restaurants also are more likely to list locally produced wines and craft beers on their menus than national chains. That adds to the ripple effect of celebrating the holidays at a locally owned restaurant.

A thriving small business sector is vital to a strong local economy. Shoppers can keep that in mind and patronize local businesses during the holiday season.