Tom Stangl

So, are you done yet?

Have you started?

I’m talking about your Christmas shopping. With Thanksgiving arriving late this year and Christmas falling early in the week, the shopping season is shorter than last year, so if you haven’t begun shopping, I suggest you get a move on.

This past week contained Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, some of the largest dollar volume shopping days of the season. They all have their impact, but Small Business Saturday has the largest impact on our community.

It’s estimated that 99.3 percent of all the businesses in the nation are considered small businesses, comprising the vast majority of firms in the nation. Being small has many benefits, but these firms are often ignored in the rush to give millions to national chains.

I love a great deal as much as the next guy, but let’s be honest with each other — there are real and tangible benefits to shopping locally. 

In many cases, you will get better service. If you have a question when shopping at a box store, good luck finding anyone, let alone someone who can answer your question. Shopping online is even worse, unless you have extra time to search for reviews and comments. Even when you find comments and reviews, can you be sure they weren’t written by someone who is on the payroll, or worse yet, someone who has an ax to grind?

The same is true when it comes to something going wrong. If you have questions or are having problems, good luck with the box stores. In many cases, you will be better off simply buying the product again. That’s a big savings, right? Sending something back is a real treat as well.

Local merchants will do what they can to make your experience a positive one. They understand you have many options for places to spend your money. The smart merchants also understand the power of a satisfied customer. Someone who is happy will tell others. Folks who have a bad experience are much more likely to share their thoughts with anyone who will listen.

I haven’t even touched on the ripple effect your dollars spent locally have on your community. It’s estimated that nearly two thirds of every dollar spent locally are spent again, amplifying the power of your dollars. A local store pays their employees, buys local goods and services and also spends money on taxes, lowering your tax burden and preserving your property values. 

Local merchants are also at the top of the list when it comes to helping the community. Fundraisers rely on direct and indirect donations from small businesses to help with everything from little league to fundraisers to pay medical bills. They are easy targets because they are here, day in and day out. I know Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in America, is a good guy, but will he sponsor your child’s little league team? If you have that one figured out, let me know.

It’s in your best interest to at least take a look at shopping locally each and every day, not just for purchases made in the next three weeks. The small additional amount you may pay is a small investment in your community, one that you can be proud of making.

When was the last time you could say that about something you bought?

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

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