Shop locally first
The hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping season can wear thin on some people, and they might become tired of having to battle the crowds of all those other people who are searching for that perfect gift. Many of those people have given up — and decided it is better to purchase gifts online or by ordering through catalogs.
That can sometimes be a mistake, as the presidents of the Jefferson County and Weirton Area and Follansbee Chambers of Commerce have again reminded us. And, as they point out, shopping at local merchants makes sense for the consumer and the community.
Local stores offer shoppers the chance to look at, touch, try on and taste or smell the merchandise. That eliminates the surprise and disappointment that can come when you find out the description of an item was not quite right, a picture was not quite accurate or the size is not what you had in mind.
If you need help, or maybe a second opinion, the sales staffs at local stores are eager to assist you and answer your questions and are likely familiar with the item you are looking at.
And, if your gift is not exactly what the recipient was looking for and needs to be returned or exchanged, local stores are willing to accommodate your needs.
Even more important is that local stores help your communities in many ways you don’t always see.
The taxes they pay to our towns, counties and states help to ensure that our streets are maintained and vital government services will continue to be provided. Remember that online retailers don’t pay property taxes, more than likely don’t employ local residents and, also likely, don’t collect sales taxes.
Local merchants also support worthy causes in our communities –sometimes to a greater extent than most people realize. Local merchants are willing to back local youth sports teams and our area’s high schools. They are willing to provide door prizes for benefit events that help sick children or assist volunteer fire departments. Some offer discounts to organizations looking to buy gifts or food for local charities. Many offer direct donations to charities — and their owners and managers volunteer with area organizations and are active on their boards of directors.
It’s unlikely the online retailer will answer a request for a donation or provide a volunteer for your organization.
Remember that local merchants hire local people to work at their businesses, and many of your friends and neighbors depend on local stores for their livelihoods.
Tricia Maple-Damewood, president of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Brenda Mull, president of the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce and Debbie Puskarich of the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce are pragmatic and understand that it is unrealistic to expect that every single purchase during the Christmas season will come from a local retailer.
But, as they have said time and again, it’s always best to look at local merchants first and give them the opportunity to serve you.