To the chagrin of public radio listeners, not-for-profit broadcasting stations hold their torturous pledge drives every year - and every year staff members are forced to dig down deep and find creative ways to come at it from a fresh angle to get you to donate.
These drives are similar to our shop local editorials, which we feel compelled to pull out this time of year to encourage people to keep their holiday dollars in town – but how to get the same old not-very-exciting-but-extremely-important topic to catch peoples’ attention? We don’t have This American Life’s Ira Glass cold-calling a longtime listener to ask why she hasn’t supported the station; we don’t have Alec Baldwin to offer on-air personalities as gifts for new pledge levels for “people who make as much money as I do” - but we do have some facts that are striking and relevant for this shopping season.
First, we’re going to pick on Amazon, the online retail giant where Business Insider reported 43 percent of all online sales were made in 2016.
•Amazon Prime is super convenient, but consider this – according to a study by Institute for Local Self Reliance, for every $10 million sold through Amazon it employs just 19 people. In contrast, independent retailers create 47 jobs for every $10 million spent.
•The study also points out that Amazon also doesn’t have distribution centers in most communities, which means it doesn’t pay property taxes. Local brick-and-mortar shops do, so they support the local community by paying taxes that support schools and governments. The more spent through Amazon means less property tax money comes from business, which means more will have to be shouldered by homeowners.
•Amazon also isn’t involved in local communities like our small businesses are – they don’t donate to local charities or sports teams.
•If you buy in a locally-owned store, you get to talk to a real person who will likely give you good customer service.
There are plenty of other reasons to shop local this holiday season, outside of curtailing the power of the online monolith.
•According to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, local business generates 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail.
•Of every $100 spent at an independent retailer, $68 remains in the local economy. For big box retailers, just $48 stays in the local economy.
•We want our community to be unique, don’t we? If we don’t support local businesses that give our communities character the country will turn into a homogenous blob where every city looks the same.
•While we most definitely support our independent shops over the mega retailers, it’s better to shop at big box stores in your community than shopping online. That sales tax money stays in town.
•Again, sales tax money collected in our communities stay in our communities. Case-in-point, the school system’s finance officer has been thrilled with higher-than-average local SPLOST collections, up nearly $50,000 from monthly collections earlier this year. She attributes it to cars being purchased at local dealerships. That $50,000 is going directly to support our school system. Other governments are enjoying increased collections as well. More sales tax money to support our government means less of a burden on property owners.
•Gifts you buy from independent shops are so much more interesting than big box stores. Many local retailers have items that are made locally.
Creative ways to shop local:
•Gift cards are always nice to receive, but consider giving gifts cards from independent restaurants and shops instead of the big guys.
•The Jasper Farmers Market has two more indoor markets on December 9th and December 23rd. This is a great place for locally made crafts. These are held at the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce.
•Antique stores are often overlooked for holiday shopping, but are treasure troves for unique gifts.
This holiday we’re going to try keep our dollars local so our community can thrive. We hope you will too.