We love Amazon Prime. LOVE it. If you’re subscribed to the service you can order almost anything online and, like a good little soldier, it arrives at your doorstep in two days, free shipping to boot.
That being said, Amazon doesn’t give us the same I’m-doing-something-good-for-the-world feeling like shopping local does, and it certainly doesn’t do anything to support our community or local economy. In fact, if you get past its convenience and consider future implications of Amazon (which calls itself the ‘Everything Store’), the image is borderline terrifying – everything we buy could very well come from one monolithic, monopolistic, totalitarian-esque company if we don’t shop local.
Some of the reasons we support supporting our local businesses are obvious but we still harp on them every year:
•You put money in the local economy by giving local business owners and their employees money. These business owners and employees can turn around and spend it locally, too.
•Sales tax supports our local governments, which provide necessary infrastructure and public services.
•If you don’t support local businesses they close. We hear people complain all the time about there being ‘nothing going on in Jasper,’ but we can also think about several businesses and restaurants that closed this year because the community didn’t support them. That leaves the retail landscape less diverse.
Other reasons to shop local aren’t as obvious, but just as important:
•Independent stores have unique things that make interesting and oftentimes more memorable gifts than what you can find at box stores. We have plenty one-of-a-kind businesses in the county, from the top-notch restaurants, ladies clothing stores, western and outdoor stores, athletic gear, pet and tack markets, antique stores, bakeries, health stores, pottery studios and art galleries, local theatre companies, and an independent coffee shop. We’ve even got an army surplus store and a locally-sourced meat market. If you can’t make a decision about what specific gift to buy, we’d bet all of these businesses offer gift cards.
•Business owners are inundated with calls from organizations that want donations or sponsorships. Businesses in small towns get hit especially hard with requests because there is a limited number of merchants. One Pickens business owner said he gets between five to seven calls each week from local organizations like churches, schools, sports team and others, and that he gives as much as he is able. Local businesses are also the ones who let groups hang posters in their storefront windows for upcoming events. Let’s see an online retailer match that service. The community needs to return the support by giving back with our dollars this season (and all year round). The more we support our businesses the more they’re able to help by giving out free gift cards or sponsoring that sports team.
•Local businesses offer in-person support for things you buy, and independent business owners usually go to great lengths to make customers happy. You also get to create personal relationships with store owners and employees, which is invaluable.
•This isn’t exactly a reason to shop in town, but more of a guideline – please don’t go into a local store, pick the owner or employee’s brain about a product they carry then go online and order it cheaper. Isn’t their professional input and time worth a few bucks?
•You save gas and time if you don’t have to drive somewhere else.
We realize some things you need you’re just not going to find in Pickens. In the market for a book on propaganda through history for that politically-minded person on your list? You probably won’t find it in Pickens, but there’s a lot you can find here if you are willing to look.
We’re not unrealistic and we’re not asking you to spend every dime of your holiday budget in town, but join us in making an effort to spend as much as you can with local businesses. Trust us, your community and your conscience will reap the rewards.