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Ready or not, the holidays are upon us. Everywhere you look there is a flurry of activity to “get ready” for them.
For many, “get ready” means, shopping, cooking, cleaning and more shopping. All this activity creates a great amount of stress and a certain dread.
Personally, I dread the thought of crowds, traffic, rude people and in some cases, near fights over parking spaces or that last item on the shelf.
Does this sound familiar? Has this happened to you? Much of that stress is usually associated with the malls, big box stores, and large shopping centers.
Nearly all of them have the same stores, the same merchandise and most of the money you spend there does not stay in the community.
There is a simple solution. You’ve heard it many times before, you’ve read about it, you know it’s true. Shop local… and “local” means small, independent merchants. Extensive studies have been done on the economic impact of local merchants vs. large chains. Every study has the same conclusion. Dollars spent locally stay local. For every $100 spent at the chain the total local economic impact is just $13. The same amount spent with a local merchant yields more than three times the local economic impact. Studies show that if everyone shifted 10 percent of their spending locally, the economic impact to that community is in the millions of dollars.
A study done in Austin, Texas reveals three main facts.
Fact 1: Local merchants generate substantially greater economic impact than chain retailers. Fact 2: Development of urban sites with directly competitive chain merchants will reduce the overall vigor of the local economy. Fact 3: Modest changes in consumer spending habits can generate substantial local economic impact.
Of course, since my focus is historic downtown La Grange, I hope you’ll come here to shop. The farthest you will have to walk in any direction is only one block to reach the nearest shop. You will most likely walk farther than that in those vast parking lots at the malls. By walking, you may discover a place you didn’t know existed.
The shops in Downtown La Grange offer everything from toys to evening gowns, sporting goods to office supplies, furniture and appliances to gifts for any occasion, diverse restaurants to flowers to local produce and local artisans. If they don’t have what you are looking for, you can bet they’re willing to try to get it for you.
Shopping locally allows you to connect with your community. You form bonds with local merchants and call each other by name. You develop a sense of community and out of community comes opportunity.
Local merchants support you. Go to any Little League game, or school function and the banner ads you see are local merchants that support many activities for children and local charities as well.
All you have to do is browse the pages of this newspaper for ads from local merchants – merchants from La Grange, Crestwood, Buckner, Centerfield, Prospect, Goshen, Skylight and Westport who are ready to serve you in any way they can.
So, think outside of the “big box” and spend your dollars locally. It’s a very smart thing to do – all year long.
The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.