Dear Virginia,

Knowing you’ll be preparing for my visit and the holiday season, I wanted to send you a suggestion as you think about shopping for your family and friends…… Buy Local!! And not just during this time of year, but all year. Multiple studies show that people see many advantages when they shop local:

More Local Jobs: Local businesses create the majority of economic growth, employing about 77 million Americans and improving stability in communities.
Enhances Diversity:  Local businesses add to the diversity of products and services available to a community. Whereas chain stores often stock shelves that reflect national demands, a local store is more likely to focus on community interests and requests.
Strengthens Local Networks:  Adds to and supports an ecosystem of local businesses that support each other.  Local business owners tend to be more civic-minded.

Boosts Environmental Sustainability: Consumers who walk to local businesses reduce their use of cars. Similarly, buying from small businesses that source local products can reduce the environmental impact that national chains impose in their transportation of goods.
Increases Real Estate Value: As real estate prices grow, communities can attract new investments to spur continued economic growth. An influx of new residents increases local tax revenue, which can be used to invest in infrastructure such as schools, public safety departments, libraries and parks that strengthen communities and drive future growth.

Yes, Virginia, keeping your shopping dollars local strengthens your community in so many ways! Here’s something else that can get overlooked:  local shopping creates energy, it helps keep a small town or a local neighborhood vibrant.  Shopping local helps create an informal communication channel that keeps a neighborhood working —  learn about a concert while you are buying a cup of coffee, or about a piece of equipment that is for sale while chatting in line at the grocery store, find a babysitter when you see a neighborhood student, or simply pass a few moments chatting with an acquaintance.  Those face-to-face interactions seem simple and not important, but what if there wasn’t a shop to run to for that forgotten ingredient or more lettuce for the salad, or no place to pop in for a cup of coffee, celebrate with dinner and drinks, or buy a last-minute gift…..what a loss that would be to all of us.

So take if from Santa – have a wonderful holiday season and buy local!