Ten years in, here's why it matters when you shop local for the holidays
We’ve been celebrating the Heights Observer’s 10th year by looking back—one month at a time—at a decade’s worth of headlines. This month is different; this month we bring you our annual “Shop local for the holidays” guide.
Here’s why it's important:
- Economic impact. Money spent over the Internet effectively leaves the community forever. The same goes for most of the money spent at big box stores. But much of the money spent at independent local merchants gets recycled back into the community, where it continues to feed the local economy.
- Quality of life. If you like the Heights for its walkable access to lively, interesting commercial districts, think of shopping in those districts as an investment in the community's character. The environment today is tough on small retailers; we'll lose them if we aren't intentional about supporting them.
- Quid pro quo. Our independent merchants support local school events and programs, community initiatives and nonprofit organizations. They donate and participate. (The Heights Observer couldn’t exist without their steady advertising support.) They cater to our local tastes and preferences. They are some of the community’s biggest boosters. They work hard to earn our business; it's only fair to give them the first shot at it.
- It's personal. The people who invest their lives in local businesses generally live in or near the community. I’d rather spend my money with neighbors and friends than with faceless corporate entities whose only concern is maximizing shareholder value.
- Political activism. Some portion of every dollar spent with large corporations is used to lobby for policies that may conflict with your values—things like wage suppression, environmental rollbacks, and cutting the power of consumer advocacy programs. Owners of small, independent businesses tend not to have lobbyists. If you see it the way I do, spending locally is like being able to vote every day for your own interests as a consumer.
- The art of gifting. After a decade of mostly local holiday shopping, I've learned the process of finding unique and thoughtful gifts in neighborhood shops run by people I know seems to make gifts better. It's something fewer people are even able to do. We're fortunate to live in a place where it's still possible.
This issue offers a gift guide (on pages 26–28) of ideas from local merchants. If you use it as the starting point for your mindfully local holiday shopping, it will have done its job.
Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chair of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.