I have a confession to make. I hate shopping. Now before you run me out of town, let me explain …. I don’t like crowded stores, I really don’t like having too many choices, and I despise that commercialism has taken over the Christmas season.

But let me clarify one point — I don’t actually hate all shopping … only the chase-the-sale, fight-the-crowd, buy-too-much kind of shopping. What’s the antidote to this? — shopping local. Shopping locally doesn’t just support another business; it supports your friends and neighbors who own that business. It supports your community by keeping taxes local. But you know all that. In fact, I’d bet by now that many of you are starting to tune me out. Same song, different verse. Am I right?

But stay with me. This is important. Shopping local is not just important for our businesses. Not just for the businesses owners. Not even for the community. This message about shopping local is in how it’s important for you and me. 

Our modern day mentality in regards to the holiday season is rush, rush, rush! Spend, spend, spend! When you take time to shop in your local shops, you will find that it is not only slower paced and less stressful, it is also inherently more satisfying. Talk with an actual person who is passionate about the products they sell, take a little more time to pick out a quality, thoughtful gift, feel good about (dare I say) spending full price because you see the person in front of you who benefits from the sale. Imagine not only getting joy from giving a gift, but from purchasing the gift. It takes Christmas shopping to a whole different level. 

I know some of you are thinking, “But I just don’t have time for that.” If that’s your mind set, I would argue that you’re wrong. It just takes a little effort to become familiar with your local stores and the products they have to offer. It’s really no different than learning what products are in different aisles at the grocery store. I’m a big proponent of organization and efficiency, so you can know it’s true when I say it can be done. I make my local shopping list in the same way I make my grocery list — I know I can swing by Graves Drug store for a birthday card for a friend, pop in to Field to Fabric quilt shop for some embroidery floss (they have all the colors!) for my next cross stitch project, go next door to Galaxie Business Equipment for ink cartridges for my home printer before stopping into Get Branded for a new Vikings hoodie for my son to replace the one he outgrew. Once you know what your local businesses sell, shopping local is easy. 

I challenge you to take some time this holiday season to really see what our local stores have to offer. Way beyond birthday cards and printer cartridges, our local stores have amazing, quality gift options. Follow the chamber’s Instagram or Facebook page as we scout local businesses for unique gift ideas.

At the chamber, we are prepared to sweeten the deal for those who take us up on the Shop Local challenge. On Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30), we will have “Chamber Elves” stationed in local businesses, handing out $50 Chamber Checks prizes throughout the day. What could be better than supporting local business, supporting our friends and neighbors, supporting local community, and experiencing the satisfaction and joy of purchasing from a local store? .... only the chance to win money while doing so. So get out there, Shop Local, and experience new-found joy in Christmas shopping! 

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