Every year, the average American spends nearly $700 on holiday gifts and goodies each year, the National Retail Federation estimates.

That’s $465 billion, which is a lot of power.

If the national average holds true in Grant County, local citizens will spend $46 million, but unfortunately most of that money will be spent outside our county lines, which is something we should all be aware of when we are filling our Christmas lists this year. It’s also something we need to bring awareness to because if people knew the power of keeping money local, we would all feel the benefits.

If even a portion of that money can be spent locally, it could bolster our local economy in a way that will have a lasting impact.

Shopping at a locally-owned store is the easiest way to help the community, but even shopping at a brick-and-mortar chain store like Walmart is better than ordering something off Amazon.

Large companies like Amazon are causing a shift toward shopping online, allowing us to get the monotonous task of going store to store done in a matter of minutes without ever leaving our couches. Sure, it’s easier, but it’s not better – not by a long-shot.

Large companies like Amazon are known to consolidate their operations and automate production as much as possible. Automation means less jobs for our growing population.

Plus, we’ve all experienced the robotic phone menus we are forced to go through just to get a simple questioned answered. The more we buy into these companies, the more they feel justified in their use of automation.

Sure, large companies that leverage vertical integration can offer some discounts smaller companies can’t, but the difference in price is often minimal compared to the benefit that shopping local makes.

By shopping in town, you’re supporting entrepreneurship, local jobs, and giving someone who lives within Grant County a paycheck that will hopefully in turn be spent within our county borders.

You’re getting the convenience of leaving a store with a quality product, and you’re getting customer service that can’t be beat by anything online.

If we don’t support our neighbors, local stores, locally-owned or not, will begin closing their doors.

It’s something we can’t afford to happen, especially when we have so many great local-owned establishments.

If you don’t believes us, check out the Shop Small Saturday Kickoff at the Boston Hill Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There will be free coffee, treats and scavenger hunt forms to fill out, where participants will compete for prices. Now that Thanksgiving is officially over, Santa is coming to town, literally.

It won’t just be a great time to enjoy the holidays, it will be a time to support your community in ways you can’t imagine.

This holiday season, remember that you hold a lot of power.

Shop local. It’s important.

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