Every holiday season, many of us vow to shop early, swearing that the time crunch befalling procrastinators will not be our fate. Many of us also plan to shop locally only to wind up shackled in retail chains. Here are a few ways to shop better this year.
I used to do a lot of holiday shopping online with little clue where the products I was buying were even coming from. The reason was that I felt so strapped for time, I didn’t think I had a choice. Last year, I chose to do things differently, just to see what would happen. What I found was that by venturing into places like Lansing, Mason, Williamston and other communities near me to shop, I got more done because I was in such a good mood the whole time. This year I plan to do that again and will start earlier to alleviate even more stress.
Here’s another reason to buy from our neighbors. It’s called the multiplier effect. When we buy locally and those business owners and their employees spend those dollars locally, it results in a marked bump in our region’s economy. According to American Independent Business Alliance, a 48% return to the community was calculated when shopping locally compared to a 13.6% return when shopping in retail chains — and all because of the multiplier effect.
There’s an important distinction there. Shopping locally doesn’t mean going to your local mall or department store and giving up online shopping. It means shopping at independently owned businesses, buying from farmers markets and festivals and checking sites like Etsy for local sellers.
According to the digital magazine Green Child, food and drink count too. Some 65.4% of revenues return to the community when we eat at a locally owned restaurant and not at a chain.
Think handmade soaps, local honey, Michigan beer and wine (preferably from independent shop owners), and gift cards to a nearby spa. And remember: The quality of locally made gifts is likely higher. Products shipped in from parts unknown often cost less because the materials and workmanship are lower quality. Those products might also come from manufacturers that exploit workers.
This year, wouldn’t it be nice to shope for the people we love knowing that we’re also helping the community we love?