November 26, 2010

Vote with your dollar—support local businesses

Support your local businesses now and always.  Frugally Farming Family sent me a great post she wrote about the importance of supporting local businesses, and I highly recommend that you check it out.  When I was younger, our family ran a local store in the West TN area which after years of business had to close because of low sales.  Big stores move in and the little guy sometimes has to close down.  I’m not suggesting that the big stores are necessarily bad (though some have business practices that are questionable at best), but we need both.  Having locally owned and operated stores, helps the local community.  Just this morning, my sister told me that she drove into the county where she works so that they would benefit from her tax dollars.  “The tax dollars help the schools where I work.”

Yea, but how can I afford to buy from local businesses when it is cheaper to buy online?

I’m not usually a big Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopper.  I didn’t even know what Cyber Monday was until I became a blogger!  Most of the shopping that I will do is completed by this time of the year because we budget and spread out our purchases year aroundI’m able to watch for deals and wait for coupons while being mindful of what people have mentioned wanting or liking.  People are always surprised when they open something in December that they mentioned wanting in June. 

Yea, buy where am I going to find…?

I’m not saying that we don’t buy from places like Target or Gymboree, but I’ve noticed that over the last few years more and more of our gifts are either homemade, locally or regionally produced, or from local sources.  I’ll either shop through a distributor/vendor like Usborne books or Premier Jewelry, supporting a friend, or I’ll buy from local stores.  For example, we bought our daughter a bike for Christmas from Target and bought the bike helmet from a locally owned store earlier in the year.  She’ll get some new clothes that I bought on a super-duper sale at Gymboree early in the year and some books that we bought from an Usborne distributor.  It isn’t perfect, but it is a balance that works for us.

For some great ideas on what to buy from local sources, I noticed that Sweet Deals recently posted some links with coupon information for those in the East TN area.  Be sure to check out those posts and look in Hannah’s post for gift ideas from Cedar Springs.

Two other types of gifts that we give that support the local economy are home canned foods and in-honor-of donations to local charities.  We buy much of the produce that I can from local farmers markets or pick-your-own farms.  While I always wish that I’d canned more, in looking at my shelves recently, I’m pretty pleased with all we have put up.  I plan to start making gift bags and baskets this week, adding in a few store bought things here and there as needed.  Last year we started making a donation to charities as gifts.  We have a friend who started Random Acts of Flowers, and last year for Christmas we made donations in honor of each of our neighbors.  It was so nice to not have to worry about baking or making something at home (one year I made over 30 rice bags for all of them!), and you know what?  They seemed to appreciate it more than the homemade stuff. 

Yea, but I like the thrill of Cyber Monday and Black Friday?

You might be surprised at how many emails I’ve received in the last couple of days from local stores and local vendors ( a local Homemade Gourmet distributor and Cutie Tooties, for instance) with deal offers and discounts on shipping.  Many of the deals associated with Cyber Monday are around free shipping.  When you order through local stores, in-store pick up is usually free.  If in doubt, call the store to see if they are offering any deals.  Also, plan ahead for next year and make sure you are on the mailing list and email newsletter list for all of the stores you like in your area. 

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to not only support local businesses, but to do so and also stay on your gift giving budget.  Happy Shopping!

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