Who Benefits from Our Christmas Gift Spending?

"Christmas reminds us we are not alone. We are not unrelated atoms, bouncing and ricocheting amid aliens, but are a part of something, which holds and sustains us. As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same. Christmas shows us the ties that bind us together, threads of love and caring, woven in the simplest and strongest way within the family." -Donald Westlake
As many of us prepare to spend the Christmas holidays with family, we may find that we have several names left on our lists for whom we have yet to find the perfect gift. Supporting local stores in our communities is like giving a Christmas gift to our neighborhoods and downtowns, in addition to the individual who is actually receiving the gift. Consider seeking out local merchants with whom to make connections and from whom to make purchases for our gift lists. According to www.buylocalthinkglobal.com, local Michigan businesses:

  • produce jobs for local communities
  • are more likely to utilize local ads, banks and other services
  • donate more money to nonprofits and are more accountable to their local communities
  • preserve the economic diversity of our communities and the unique character of our neighborhoods.

Buying from small businesses is so important to our communities because it helps keep jobs in town. The local gift shop is unlikely to close its doors for the purposes of moving elsewhere. If a local store shuts its doors, it is usually for good. Money spent in our local towns means more money stays in our communities because it circulates within the local economy. In 2004, a study concluded that $100 spent in local businesses meant that $68 remained in the local community, compared to $43 for the big-box stores. That is a difference of $25 for every $100 that we spend. It helps keep our downtowns in business which are also apt to sponsor little league teams and support community and local events.
Supporting local shop-owners is a way to be mindful of where we are spending our money and where the money goes after we purchase a gift. Moreover, the person behind the counter is, on many occasions, the shop-owner who is eager to help us and answer our questions. It may, at times, feel more "comfortable" to walk into a big-box store, shop anonymously, pay for our goods with hardly a word exchanged aside from the rehearsed and repetitive phrases the clerks are required to say, and leave with a big shopping bag, having done most of our shopping in one stop. But Christmas is about connecting with people, and connecting with people by shopping in our local businesses helps spread the joy of the holiday season to our communities while keeping more money in our own downtowns and neighborhoods. Dan A. Penning