Every time we open our wallets we make a choice. We are choosing whether or not our independent, locally owned stores will succeed. We are choosing whether we will keep our money in our local economy, which supports our schools, fixes our roads and strengthens our community.
It is heart breaking to watch friends and fellow small business owners close their doors because they can’t pay bills. There have been so many this year and as I watched Cherry Redd, one of our downtown treasures, close up shop this past week, right before Christmas, when they should be experiencing higher customer traffic and increasing sales I had to wonder…when we make pledges to shop local, whether it is supporting our local artisans or our small locally owned businesses, what are we really doing? Does shopping local mean we only do it when it’s convenient? Or we shop the local big box instead of driving to Portland?
Last Christmas I committed to purchasing my Christmas gifts from local artists and artisans – I took the ‘pledge’ to spend $50 buying gifts made locally. Once I started, it was easy. I hit the local art associations, artist cooperatives and festivals. I used the nifty feature on Etsy ‘the world’s online handmade marketplace’, to find Salem Etsians and even made those purchases online and still kept to my pledge to shop local and support local artists. The gifts I gave were fantastic, one-of-a kind treasures and as it turned out, didn’t cost a fortune and doing it was incredibly easy. I found something perfect for everyone on my list.
I don’t make this pledge anymore, I simply do it. Every day. It has become one of the things I think about when I make a purchase. Of course, there are purchases that can’t be made through local businesses, but when the option is available I do my best to buy local.
If you’ve made the ‘Shop Local’ pledge for Christmas this year, good for you! But don’t stop after the presents are unwrapped; keep it going into the New Year and beyond. Think about your favorite local hangouts, restaurants and add a few more to the list like a local print shop and plant nursery. Every time you open your wallet you are making a choice and where you spend your money really does matter.
Helen Nute Wiens is a Studio jeweler, owner of Calusa Studio in downtown Salem, partner of Lunaria Gallery and Gallery B (soon to be Red Raven Gallery), President of Keizer Art Association and V.P. of Artists in Action.
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