Our View: Shop locally this holiday season | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Shop locally this holiday season

The National Retail Foundation predicts the average American shopper will spend $737.95 this Christmas, which translates to total forecasted holiday sales of $602.1 billion nationwide during the 2013 holiday shopping season. Keeping those staggering totals in mind, the Steamboat Pilot & Today encourages area residents to consider spending those dollars locally rather than shopping online or traveling to the malls and big-box stores in Denver.

Many communities across the country, including Steamboat Springs, have launched "shop local" campaigns in advance of the Black Friday kickoff to holiday shopping.

These efforts are aimed at reminding shoppers of the positive economic, community and environmental impacts they can have if they choose to fill their holiday wish lists with purchases from neighborhood businesses.

Why shop local?

The reasons are compelling.

Instead of sending your shopping dollars out of town, keep your hard-earned bucks right here in Routt County. Dollars spent locally support businesses that are owned and operated by people who live here and have made an investment in the Steamboat Springs community. These businesses support local schools, organizations and charities through generous giving and volunteer support.

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When people buy locally, they trigger what has been termed the "local economic multiplier effect." Multiple studies, conducted by groups across the U.S., have verified this effect, and according to organizations like the American Independent Business Alliance, study results show local independent businesses spend business revenue within the region where they are located. In other words, local businesses tend to purchase goods and services from other locally owned businesses, which keeps money circulating closer to home.

More specifically, it is estimated that for every $1 spent at a locally-owned business, 45 cents is reinvested locally, which produces big dividends for the local economy not to mention increases in local sales tax revenue, which supports vital community services and infrastructure. By contrast, only 15 cents of every $1 spent at a corporate chain store is reinvested in the local economy.

Shopping locally also ensures that the retail segment of the local economy remains strong and downtown shopping districts stay vibrant. The wide variety of shops and restaurants along Lincoln Avenue, Oak and Yampa streets, along U.S. Highway 40 and at the base of the ski mountain play an important role in attracting visitors to Steamboat, which again bolsters the local business climate.

This variety also ensures that local shoppers will be able to secure those perfect one-of-a-kind gifts that can't be found at a big-city mall or shopping center. And the customer service offered at local businesses is better and more personalized, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

Local businesses also are local job producers, and by supporting these local retailers, the community is promoting job growth. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses provide 55 percent of all jobs nationwide and 66 percent of all net new jobs. And on an interesting side note, the American small business sector occupies 30 to 50 percent of all commercial space in the U.S.

From an environmental aspect, shopping local also makes sense. When you shop close to home, you are reducing transportation, which in turn minimizes fuel usage and reduces carbon dioxide production.

The positive benefits of shopping locally are far-reaching, and as you start making those holiday gift lists, we again encourage you to research your shopping options and choose to fill those lists with local goods, products and services purchased from locally owned businesses. To help you cement those good intentions, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association have joined forces to promote local holiday shopping through the "I Shop Steamboat!" campaign. You can take the pledge today at http://www.ishopsteamboat.com.

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