Jeb Bladine - Localize your holiday purchases
For the first time, our annual “Shop Local” message is being delivered on “Black Friday.” The irony, no doubt, is not lost on those who believe a Shop Local campaign should promote only locally owned retail and service providers.
Certainly, we maximize the area impact of consumer spending by supporting locally owned businesses. But outside-owned companies also employ local people and support the community, so we should be comfortable extending our “Shop Local” cloak to those businesses.
First, as usual, here’s the message we’ve delivered in this space for almost 25 years:
Dollars spent at home are recirculated to the benefit of our community. Property taxes from local businesses finance our schools and other government services, and those owners and employees support and finance local causes, programs and projects.
Buying locally is a primary way to improve the economy and social infrastructure serving our community. Strong local businesses will draw buyers from other communities, offsetting the outflow of money when local people shop elsewhere.
Tens of millions of dollars are at stake annually. A strong shop-at-home mentality translates into better prices and selections in local stores and a strong economy serving everyone.
Extending the concept
The “Shop Local” concept can be extended to the state and nation. Purchasing goods made in Oregon, or at least made in America, supports some of the most important elements of a strong economy. When those goods are produced nearby, the financial impact is even greater.
Manufacturers provide quality jobs, and our country has lost far too many of those jobs to foreign countries. In fact, one of the most interesting “Made in Oregon” campaigns involves an effort to entice Chinese companies to open manufacturing plants in our state.
There also is a new campaign called “The Made in America Movement” (MIA). Its mission: “To play a part in the restoration of the U.S. economy by connecting U.S. manufacturers with consumers. Educating consumers on the importance of buying American-made products. Partnering with manufacturers and small retail boutiques to collaborate on expanding their Made in USA product inventory.”
At all levels, Shop Local supporters identify the “multiplier effect” of keeping dollars inside our economy. According to the MIA movement, this economic factor generates $1.40 in revenue for every $1 spent, and each additional 1 percent of Made in America goods purchased generates 250,000 jobs.
Bottom line is, consumer spending accounts for a majority of all economic activity. The more spending we keep in our community, county, state and nation, the better our economy will be.
‘New Tradition’ is important
Significant forces continue to impact the level of consumer spending. One is the slow recovery from a great recession; another is growing recognition that overbuying contributes to excesses in energy use and depletion of natural resources.
In such times, it’s even more important to consider the “Birth of a New Tradition” we featured in last year’s Shop Local message. Written by an unknown author, the article went viral on the Internet in 2011, and its core axioms are all the more relevant in 2012.
Give gift certificates to a hair salon or barber, to a local gym or for an auto detail job, the person wrote. Mow a lawn for the summer or take someone for a game of golf. Give the gift of an oil change, cleaning day or computer tune-up. Consider local artwork, restaurant reservations or a night at a nearby B&B.
Turn away from those “monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods,” the writer urged, which are “produced at the expense of American labor.” He or she concluded:
“Let’s make spending choices that show we care about the United States; choices that encourage American small businesses to keep plugging away, keep hiring, and keep contributing to our hometown’s success. When we care about other Americans and turn that caring into action, the benefits will come back to us in ways we can’t even imagine. Choose to make this the new American Christmas tradition.”
News-Register publisher Jeb Bladine may be contacted at 503-687-1223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.