As the New Year begins we typically make the same resolutions: lose weight, become more patient, spend more time with our families. These are all important and great resolutions, but I would like to suggest another, “Shop locally.”
Why “shop locally”? One reason is to preserve the charm and beauty of our shoreline towns. Sure, we can save a few bucks shopping online, but at the same time, we are all silently allowing the Amazons of the world to erode the character of our towns. Small town shops do more than strengthen a community. They help support a vibrant local economy. And for many people, they provide the entry level jobs where young people can develop the necessary skills they will need for more important jobs as they grow older. Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally.
When I first moved to Madison over 10 years ago many a pleasant Sunday morning was spent enjoying the magic of downtown Madison. I would take my young daughter to the local coffee shop, after breakfast we would walk to the pet store, then to the bike shop and always of course to Belles and Beaux, the toy store. We bought stuff for our dog from the pet store, two bikes from the bike store and countless gifts from the toy store. Sadly to say, all three of these stores are long since gone.
Shopping locally takes on many forms, and every dollar spent locally has a profound effect upon the community. Economists estimate that for every dollar spent in a locally-owned business, 68 cents stay in the community. It doesn’t take a PhD in economics to determine what percentage of your dollar spent on Amazon returns to Madison.
Shopping locally is more than just buying a shirt from a local store. Shopping locally is a mindset that focuses on supporting local business and keeping your dollars within your town coffers. For example, consider transferring your money from your Bank of America or Citibank account to Guilford Savings Bank. GSB, founded in 1875 by local business owners, supports the community directly and, in addition endows The Guilford Savings Bank Scholarship Fund which awards annual scholarships to outstanding high school seniors in the towns of Guilford, Madison, Branford and Old Saybrook.
And remember, shopping at Wal-Mart is NOT buying locally. Studies have found that big-box retailers, particularly Wal-Mart, depress wages and reduce benefits for retail employees. Moreover, revenue is not deposited in the local towns, but enriches the overall corporate entity.
As a suggestion, when “Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy” comes to the Madison Art Cinema — a unique Madison treasure — first take in the movie, and then afterwards cross the street and buy the book at R.J. Julia Booksellers — another Madison landmark.