’Tis the season for a lot of things: Giving thanks, spreading joy, caring for neighbors, contributing to your community.
We can accomplish all those with one simple task this holiday season: Shopping local.
Since it’s also the season to make lists, we’ll do that too, with reasons why it’s a great idea to support local businesses.
It helps the community. Sales taxes in the Kenai Peninsula Borough go to fund education, so for purchases made on the peninsula, a portion of the money spent goes to schools. Cities collect sales taxes, as well, and use the money to pay for the services city-dwellers enjoy. Businesses also contribute to property taxes, which fund all manner of governmental operations. Spiderman pajamas purchased for your nephew at a local store this Christmas really do have superpowers — they pay for schools, road plowing, fire protection, police and a whole slew of other services.
It helps the economy. Local businesses provide jobs. Not as many as government or big oil, but they still employ thousands of people on the peninsula. Paychecks from those jobs help support the economy by being spent in local stores, paying for homes and in general circulating throughout the economy.
It helps neighbors. Local residents who own and work in local stores are members of the community. They donate to bake sales, coach youth sports, volunteer at fundraisers and keep an eye out for lost dogs and stolen bicycles. Without their jobs, they may not have the ability to do those things, or may have to move altogether.
It can save money. Postal rate increases mean purchases ordered out of catalogs or off the Internet come with an extra price tag that can easily render sales prices or savings from avoiding sales taxes moot. Driving to Anchorage to shop also racks up extra costs. Even with gas prices dropping under $3 a gallon, a shopping trip to Anchorage can cost $50 to $100 extra.
Good selection. There’s something for everyone in area stores. Got an outdoorsman in the family? They’re covered. Does someone love to cook? No problem. Are they a sewer, artist, musician, athlete or gourmet coffee connoisseur? Check. New tech gadgets, the season’s “it” toys and trendy clothes are available locally, as well as unique, one-of-a-kind items. If you really can’t find a thing for someone on your list, then get them an experience, such as a gift certificate to a local restaurant, or tickets to a movie, sporting event or theater show.
Shoppers say their holiday budgets will be tightened this year, and there’s plenty of reasons why that’s a good idea. But it makes spending choices all the more important.
Maximize the impact of whatever gifts are on your list this year by buying them locally. Not only is it a present to the intended recipient, it’s a gift to the whole community, as well.