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Bladine: Don't just shop local; think, act and be local

Marcus Larson/News-Register file photo##Bruce Bustamante and Anita Nelson view the festive Christmas decorations outside NW Food & Gifts before entering to shop for presents.
Marcus Larson/News-Register file photo##Bruce Bustamante and Anita Nelson view the festive Christmas decorations outside NW Food & Gifts before entering to shop for presents.

Jeb Bladine, third generation leader of the News-Register’s ownership family, is a graduate of McMinnville High and the University of Oregon. He has played local and state leadership roles in downtown development efforts, civic ventures and social service agencies, as well as state and national leadership positions in the newspaper industry. He and spouse Michelle value a strong community that is home for families of their two married children.

 

Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — long has been the day our annual “Shop Local” promotion leads off the Viewpoints section. In this 32nd year of that campaign, we want to start with the epilogue of our 2020 installment:

“There’s no need to remind readers about the ordeals of 2020 in health, economics, politics and culture.

“When this historic pandemic ends … when the politics of division are softened by collaboration … when people regain balance in their lives … the quality of American life still will need some basic tenets:

“Shop local in support of a strong/diverse economy; contribute to local charities and nonprofit groups; recognize the importance of positive community interdependence; be part of the solutions rather than part of the problems.”

Here we are, a year later, still hoping for an end to that same pandemic, still bristling at continuation of those same ordeals and others. It’s a good time to remind ourselves that the opening line of our 2020 Shop Local message is just as true today:

“A healthy, vibrant future depends on building strong partnerships among individuals, businesses, institutions and organizations.”

That statement helps explain the evolution of Shop Local campaign names.

It began in 1990 as “Shop at Home.” That image later was criticized when the Internet prompted out-of-town shopping from home, so we rebranded the campaign as “Yamhill County Shop Local.”

Later, the moniker was renamed “Shop Local Advantage” for a number of years. Finally, in 2019, the long-time Shop Local campaign was wrapped into the “Community Partners” program.

Over the decades, we’ve found people instinctively know the benefits of shopping locally. As itemized last year on a financial website, those benefits include a stronger economy, a closer community, a cleaner environment, better health and a great place to live.

The website encouraged a simple action plan for people: “Learn About Local Businesses … Shop Locally … Eat Locally … Bank Locally.” Here is that commentary’s “Final Word”:

“When you invest money in your local economy, you’re not just helping local business owners – you’re also helping yourself. You’re making your town a better place to live in, with a rich character, thriving economy, and tightly knit community. And the more local businesses prosper, the more new ones will open, making it even easier to continue shopping locally in the future.”

This year, global supply chain problems have created shortages for retailers and their customers, and the pandemic still inhibits some people who might otherwise go shop-to-shop-to-shop in search of the perfect holiday gifts.

That situation sends more people to their computers to practice today’s version of the mail-order shopping, which began in 1848 when Alfred Hammacher sold mechanic’s tools and builder’s hardware through the first major mail order business. It really took off when Aaron Montgomery Ward followed in 1872, becoming the true father of mail-order shopping.

Today, the same phenomenon is at work. It’s just become faster and more efficient.

If something you “must have” simply isn’t available locally, buying online isn’t a crime against Shop Local thinking. Of course, you might ask yourself if the pleasure of that must-have item could be replaced by some different goods or services found locally.

Meanwhile, you can create a win-win-win scenario by Christmas shopping with local gift cards: You have an easy shopping experience; your gift recipients can customize holiday gifts while perhaps taking advantage of early-2022 price reductions; and all the money goes to local businesses that, officially or unofficially, are among our community partners.

Businesses throughout the area have their own individual gift cards, and McMinnville Downtown Association sells gift cards in any denomination for use at more than 50 participating downtown businesses. You can buy those cards online for convenience, and pick up at MDA’s 3rd Street headquarters to save shipping costs.

One real joy of the holiday season still is the actual, on-the-ground shopping experience. You learn something about local business and the people who run them; you rekindle acquaintances with the goods and services and service providers of the community; you may even run into friends and neighbors who you haven’t seen for some time.

Along the way, whatever your thoughts about the pandemic, the vaccines and the masks, don’t challenge shop owners and managers who simply are following inconvenient laws and community safety policies. Whatever your passions toward people who think differently from yourself, just keep them to yourself and enjoy whatever community experience your shopping trip might provide.

And don’t just shop local: Think local. Act local. Be local.

Contact Jeb Bladine at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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