Tracy Barnett: Shop locally for holidays, year-round
December 2, 2013
Undoubtedly, you have seen the "I Shop Steamboat" ads and articles that are encouraging Steamboat Springs residents to "buy local" for the holidays.
Most of us have been hearing these words for years and attempt to make at least some of our purchases locally. But, with the ease of shopping on the internet in the middle of night with our jammies on, or the perceived great deals we think we can get in Denver or at big box stores, we often don't even look to see if the same products are available here in Steamboat. We can get whatever it is delivered right to our front doors, often in 24 to 48 hours, without ever having to get in the car to see if the same thing might be right here.
Yes, shopping locally might be a little more inconvenient and maybe a little more expensive, but sometimes it's not all about the bottom line.
Steamboat Springs prides itself on its sense of community. We all know each other. We share common interests and care about our children. We take care of our own when there is a tragedy or accident that befalls one of us — even if we don't know them.
But do we have the same sense of community when it comes to the almighty dollar?
Money spent here in Steamboat Springs helps to keep our friends and neighbors employed. It helps to build the amenities we find so dear and keeps our streets plowed and parks mowed. When money is spent with local merchants, those same merchants donate hundreds and thousands of dollars to our non-profits, schools and organizations.
When my husband and I owned Mazzola's Majestic Italian Restaurant, we were approached, sometimes several times per day, to donate to the numerous fundraisers, silent auctions and events that keep this town humming. As a local, we knew how important it is to support those organizations, mostly run by volunteers, who are doing good work in our community. We very seldom refused (unless you might be the fifth or sixth person that day).
If you choose to spend your money on the Internet or in Denver (or anywhere out of town) those sales tax dollars are lost to us. If you spend those dollars locally, with local companies, those dollars circulate within the community at least three times in the form of wages, paying for services, for the bookkeeper and the plumber.
If you choose to shop at Walmart and Staples here in Steamboat, those sales tax dollars stay here, even if the profits go back to corporate headquarters. If you choose to buy books at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore instead of from Amazon.com, those dollars stay here.
Local businesses employ your friends and neighbors. They create community. Can Amazon say that? When was the last time Amazon contributed to a nonprofit or built a trail here in Steamboat Springs?
You get my drift. Please think twice about where you do your shopping, not just for the holidays, but all year-round. Become familiar with what our stores have to offer. If you don't see what you want or need, let a merchant know. They might be able to get it for you.
MainStreet Steamboat and the Chamber will be working on a year-round buy local program to continually remind our community of the importance of showing pride in and support for this place we all cherish so much — Steamboat Springs. Stay tuned.
I have pledged to do my shopping here in Steamboat Springs for the holidays (and beyond). I hope you will consider doing the same thing.