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Editorial: Think 12 reasons to shop locally this Christmas

Just as "The Twelve Days of Christmas" are familiar, many of us know why residents should shop locally instead of going online or traveling to a destination mall. Still, 'tis the season so we invite you to consider 12 reasons how you benefit yourself, your neighbors and your community when you buy goods sold and made close to home.

1. Shopping locally helps Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Ellsworth, Lake City, Zumbrota and more retain their distinctiveness.

Our independent shops create special shopping experiences. Sometimes we take for granted why many tourists enjoy coming here.

2. Shopping locally powers a community's economic cycle.

Businesses and manufacturers create employment. When workers spend money here, economic stability results, which then encourages self-employment and entrepreneurship. Enterprise leads to more businesses and manufacturing, and the cycle grows.

3. Shopping locally preserves services as well as stores.

Private and public sector services tend to cluster around shops. When shops disappear, so do banks, coffee shops, salons, etc. Those services, of course, bring needed foot traffic to retailers.

4. Local shops are for everyone.

Most people can reach shops and service providers easily — be it by foot, bicycle, car or the Hiawathaland Transit bus. (Yes, the bus even goes to neighboring communities which we also define as local.)

5. Independent shops support living-wage jobs.

You can shop with a clearer conscience when you buy close to home, where you are less likely to purchase goods that were made in some Third World sweatshop.

6. Local stores sell a wide variety of great products.

The variety is astounding — from food to crafts to classics — some of them featured in those beautifully decorated windows, which brings us to reason No. 7.

7. Shopping locally is a cozy, hometown experience.

This beats the congested malls any time.

8. You can actually save money when you shop locally.

These businesses offer affordable prices. Skip the shipping charge. Save the gasoline. When you subtract travel, fees and your time, the cost of shopping locally can be lower than shopping an hour from home.

9. Shopping at local stores is more environmentally friendly than other options.

Local shops often stock a high percentage of locally sourced goods. That pancake mix and syrup, those boots and stoneware bowls didn't require a lengthy journey by truck, trainer or airplane to reach the store shelf. Shop locally and reduce your carbon footprint.

10. Location, location, location.

Why wouldn't you do something that increases property values and boosts local quality of life?

11. Local merchants value their customers.

Local businesses survive by their reputation and by repeat business. That means you're likely to get a higher standard of service than at some big store where you are just a number, not a neighbor.

12. Independent owners invest in the community.

Local businesses, according to chamber of commerce statistics, are proportionately more generous in supporting local charities, schools and community events. When you support these businesses, you're making it easier for them to be generous. In essence, when you shop locally for a Christmas gift, you're giving twice.

If you want to give your community a gift this season, start by shopping right here.