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#ShopSmall Saturday

ghost town
Unsplash/Ben Garratt

Back in the day (read: before Amazon), when I was a youth baseball coach’s wife, I had to help raise money for our teams by asking our local businesses to buy sponsorships. Each spring, I’d take my pre-written letter, my beaming smile, and a well-rehearsed plea, and walk in the door of each small store in our downtown.

After five years of repetitive requests, the owners recognized me, and I could skip my little speech. Then, years later, when our community group was replacing an aging playground, the request was larger — something for us to auction off at our fundraiser. The hobby store donated a rather expensive geology kit, the bookstore gave us a set of a popular series. The restaurant on the corner gave us a generous gift certificate.

The thing was, I wasn’t the only game in town. There was the local soccer club, youth football, and orchestra kids raising money to go to Carnegie Hall. Our small local businesses supported them all.

But now it’s an Amazon world. Last week, when I went downtown, paper covered the windows of some shuttered businesses. I thought of my old speech as I walked past the ghosts of the businesses that once were. They routinely gave, but downtowns have changed across America, as we changed how and where we shopped.

Some small businesses evolved. My favorite bookstore has local delivery, and a nifty shop-online website. Does it cost more to buy local? That depends on how you value your community. Out of every dollar spent at my local bookstore .67 cents stays in my town.

As a percentage of giving to local causes, like my youth baseball and playground project, small businesses give a whopping 250% MORE than large businesses.

If the environment is a cause you support, then shopping local requires less transportation.

How about jobs? The largest employers across our nation are small businesses, providing jobs to our local residents. Small businesses invest in the community too — as well as their employees who live in our neighborhoods and pay taxes that support our towns.

Before COVID hit, our downtown core was experiencing a renaissance. Small eateries, a cute store with stained glass creations, new pubs, and several trendy clothing boutiques opened in hopes to attract the summer tourist crowds. Small businesses typically have a broader range of choices than corporately-owned stores — stores with one-of-a-kind gifts. But the best part of shopping local are the owner’s smiles. Every purchase genuinely makes a difference to them and to my town. #ShopSmall Saturday begins this week and if we can — let’s do it all year.

Karen Farris saw the need to help underserved kids while serving in a youth ministry that gave her the opportunity to visit rural schools on the Olympic Peninsula. She now volunteers her time grant writing to bring resources to kids in need. She also shares stories of faith in action for those needing a dose of hope on her weekly blog, Friday

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