Slowing down to shop small this season

As a Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) loan specialist, I’ve had the opportunity to serve many hardworking entrepreneurs. So I know firsthand the importance of supporting small businesses whenever possible. But sometimes, knowledge alone is not enough for us to act on.

I recently attended the North Platte, Neb., Shop Local Kickoff event, which featured state and local proclamations highlighting the importance of shopping our local brick and mortar retail stores. The event really made me think about how I will be doing my holiday shopping this year.

I’ll have to be the first to admit that shopping is not one of my favorite activities. But this time of year, it’s something almost all of us feel an obligation to do, regardless of how we feel about it. 

Therefore, I’m going to challenge myself to make local purchases and encourage everyone else to do the same. I say challenge because I get it – it’s often faster and less expensive to go online. But that route wastes our power to use our purchases to make a difference in our communities and hometowns. 

Here are a couple of good reasons to get off of the web and into the local stores of whichever community you live in:

1. Going online is not always the best deal. Usually, the price you see that drives you to click “add to cart” isn’t so great after you check out and have to pay shipping. Not to mention having to wait for the item to arrive. Depending on what type of purchase it was, you may not even like what you bought. When you shop at a local retailer, you know what you are buying. And in some cases, even who you are buying from. Your purchase will include sales tax, but those taxes are put to good use. (Sales tax is also due for online purchases in Nebraska, however most retailers do not itemize that part of the transaction.)

2. That small business owner you just supported is creating jobs and paying local taxes that help with infrastructure. Often, local business owners will be the first people in your community to throw down sponsorship bucks for community events like a 5K fun run or local celebration, and they also donate to charities in your town.

In addition to Small Business Saturday that happens on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, did you know that November through Dec. 24, 2016, has been designated “Shop 4 Nebraska”? This is a new campaign presented by the Nebraska Retail Association and GROW Nebraska to drive in-store shopping.

So this shopping season, I will be getting on my feet and into small businesses when I’m searching for gifts for my friends and family. I know I will find something unique. By supporting a local business, I’m making a difference with a big impact in our own communities – that’s what I call value.

 Will you join me this season in shopping on your main street? This type of shopping is more active – not only because our dollars will go further, but also because strolling around those different shops has health benefits!

When small businesses thrive because of your support, everyone wins!

Feature photo: Nancy Flock urges you to join her in shopping main street businesses this holiday season.