Staff Editorial

Shop local now and throughout the year

(Liz Martin/The Gazette Archives)
(Liz Martin/The Gazette Archives)

You have choices this holiday shopping season.

Americans are bombarded with more buying options than ever, supposedly making the shopping experience quicker and more convenient. It’s understandable if a few of your gift dollars go to Amazon or other large, out-of-state corporations. But you should also make sure a fair share of those dollars go to businesses owned and operated by fellow Iowans.

Small Business Saturday started nearly a decade ago when credit card company American Express partnered with small business clients to promote local shopping on the Saturday following Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Since then, the event has been embraced by many businesses and regional business boosters, including here in Eastern Iowa.

Special promotions and holiday festivities are planned Saturday in downtown Cedar Rapids, downtown Iowa City, the Czech Village-New Bohemia district and Uptown Marion. Those shopping destinations benefit from your support this weekend and throughout the year.

Perhaps the best part about shopping local in Eastern Iowa is that it does not entail sacrificing quality. Yes, there still are holiday craft fairs in the coming weeks if that’s your style, but we also have homegrown makers and sellers specializing in an impressive array of products. You’re sure to find more than a few things on your Christmas list at local stores.

Economic research points to some important benefits of shopping local, including more stable employment, wage growth and increased local tax revenue. While national retailers may offer lower prices for some goods, the savings are fleeting compared to the benefits of building a strong and sustainable local economy. In a moment of great uncertainty about our long-term economic and political outlook, it is increasingly important to bolster our communities’ self-reliance, and that includes local businesses.

When small businesses die, community members predictably complain about the pressure imposed on local entrepreneurs by the big box stores and the giant online retailers. For those who lament, ask yourself when was the last time you patronized one of those stores before it was shuttered?

We are fortunate to have weathered fewer such closures than many other regions. Local businesses face shifting challenges, but their fates are not sealed. Consumer choices directly determine what kinds of businesses will thrive, and we know Eastern Iowa is home to many innovative entrepreneurs and discerning shoppers.

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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