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November 27, 2018

Why We Shop Local

This time of the year, so much emphasis is placed on where we shop. We are bombarded by Black Friday and Cyber Monday and shop small on Saturday. There are just so many places to put our dollars.

The numbers are staggering, especially for online shopping, which hit $8 billion this year on Cyber Monday. Why not? It is convenient, cozy, fast. And maybe our online dollars save us money, but that convenience does come at a price, impacting our local small businesses. Those same dollars spent online mean so much more and go so much further when spent at local small businesses, be it in a small town or in the big city. The entrepreneur who dared to open a retail shop depends so much more on what you will spend this time of year than any of the behemoths online.

That’s why each November Deluxe employees show our love for small businesses with our annual Shop Local night. This year, roughly 400 Deluxers from locations across the country started their holiday shopping seasons by heading out to local communities to patron small businesses. Here in Minnesota, 200 or so of us made it to White Bear Lake, hitting mom and pop shops up and down the town’s main street area. In each location, we were greeted by small business owners who offered everything from hot chocolate to wine and beer for happy shoppers who spent thousands of dollars that night.

Other than an evening reception, there was no incentive for our employees to take part, but people signed up in big numbers. They wanted to use their own dollars to not only get a jump on holiday shopping, but to support small business owners. Yet it was more than that. Taking time to see what local businesses have to offer gives everyone a new perspective on supporting friends and neighbors. Many employees comment that browsing through these shops helps inspire thoughtful gifts for their loved ones that they may never have thought of otherwise.

At the same time, Deluxe announced the Top 20 towns that are in the running for Season 4 of Small Business Revolution, small communities that know what a thriving downtown can mean to their overall economy.

In many cases, these towns have been literally bypassed when new highways were built, designed to get people from one major city to another as quickly as possible. Where once bustling downtowns were the heartbeat of their communities, now many storefronts sit empty. Despite this challenge, small town communities believe in themselves and the businesses that give them an identity.

That dollar spent at the local retail shop stays in the community. Think about that journey, from your wallet to the storekeeper, who then uses it to pay him or herself, or an employee. They then use that dollar out at a local restaurant or brewery, where it may go back into ingredients bought from the farmer’s market or the local grocery story. It continues to circulate, from one small business to another, becoming a self-sustaining entity.

It’s great to “shop small” the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but it is equally important to do so all throughout the giving season and beyond.  Get that bottle of olive oil, or the growler from the brew pub. Buy a gift certificate from the local spa or a cozy sweater from a thoughtfully curated boutique. It will mean everything to that small business owner, and it will help sustain the communities we live in.

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