Shopping Shift : ‘Put your money where your home is’

The “shop local” sensibility is developing everywhere — and for good reason.

Think of it as a counterweight to the late November marketing force that has become known as “Black Friday”.

They call it “Plaid Friday” in Delaware, urging shoppers to wear suitable checked attire for the occasion.

“Shift Your Shopping,” is how one Minnesota community approaches it.

In the big city west of us, there is a “Supportland” campaign promoting small businesses.

As Americans it is our right, and our luxury, to purchase whatever and wherever we want, but starting in the neighborhood is the best thing to do.

Here in the Gorge, “Go Local” is the phrase employed currently by Gorge Owned Business Network, whose second annual campaign is a good place to start. It provides local incentives for supporting local businesses. Through Jan. 1, customers who make three purchases totaling $50 at locally owned businesses or with local nonprofits in the five counties of the Gorge can enter the “GO! Local Challenge” and be entered to win prizes donated by participating businesses..

Then there is Small Business Saturday, an annual campaign put forth by a major credit card company. (In 2011, 100 million people shopped small, according to that company’s survey.)

According to the National Retail Federation, 147 million shoppers plan to hit stores this Black Friday weekend. By some estimates, the weekend can bring in as much as 40 percent of a store’s annual sales.

The best way to invest a dollar is to invest it with a locally-owned business that will continue to reinvest it in the community. According to the online Business Insider, local businesses put 45 cents of every dollar back into the community, compared to 13 cents by national chains. Of course, those amounts vary depending on who you’re talking about. National chains that are located in the Gorge provide jobs for local residents and are often franchises owned by members of the community.

Shifting to local spending keeps people employed and builds connections among neighbors, while reducing traffic and fuel costs, notes Becky Brun, director of Gorge Owned.

This season, whether the business is small or big, turn first to those that are in your area. The Chamber of Commerce and, yes, your local newspaper, are good resources for lists of local businesses.

Most businesses, even small ones, have some form of Internet presence, so shopping locally can largely be accomplished on-line if you prefer. (See on Wednesday for an updated list.)

Friday is a good day to start in on your Christmas shopping, and local merchants provide plenty of reasons to do so, but it’s also worth keeping in mind that it’s fine to take your time. Let your Thanksgiving dinner settle, and call your local merchants and ask if they have the product you want. Put some time into researching purchases and the closest place to find them.

“Shop small” is an idea that can apply no matter one’s purchasing methods or affiliations. It is a way to present people with their alternatives, to instill the attitude of “put your money where your home is.”

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