With that in mind, we at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce want to wish everyone a joyous time of family togetherness on both holidays that signal the pending close of yet another marvelous year in our community. In short, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to all!
With the holidays fast approaching, it gives me this opportunity to encourage everyone to consider buying local first. That includes for both holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But because most people recognize Christmas as the season of giving — and that means shopping — I’d like to speak on why I encourage you to buy local first.
I know … it is fun to go to “the big city” with all the glitz and glamour to do some of your Christmas shopping. I get it. You’re not just shopping, you’re going for the experience and besides, some gifts are far more impressive if you traveled far to acquire that rare find … in the big box retail store … that also has a store here in Cleveland. I’m just sayin’.
BUT … before you set off for “the big city,” let me give you a few reasons to think local first when you’re shopping this holiday season:
1. Our community is growing and with that we have been blessed with numerous places to do your shopping. We have a wide variety of shopping choices with the mall, the numerous shopping centers in town and lots of out-of-the-way places for antiques, gifts and collectibles. We also have a wonderful and vibrant downtown with lots of neat little shops and restaurants with unique local gifts. Don’t forget the gift shop at the Museum Center at Five Points. You cannot only support our fine museum, but you can also support some very talented local artists and authors. Many local companies offer gift certificates. How about a massage, hair cut or spa day, oil change, lawn care, vacation trip, bakery goods, gourmet coffee, catered meal and dance salons? And, well, you get the picture. Be creative. Last year, my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told her something sporty with leather interior would be great. She got me a wallet with a UT logo. She’s very creative … and frugal.
2. Buying local means supporting your local economy. For every dollar spent in Bradley County, as much as 70 cents stays in the community through sales taxes, payroll and other expenditures. Local sales taxes keep your local property taxes lower.
3. It helps the environment and your pocketbook. Buying local reduces your carbon footprint by reducing the amount of driving you need to do. Here’s a question. If you are driving to a popular outlet mall 56.4 miles away and the IRS mileage cost estimate is $.565 per mile, how much does it cost just to get there and back? (Hint: You have to double the mileage for the round trip.) If you answered $63.73, send a Christmas card to a teacher thanking him or her for the math lesson. We’re not even counting the wear and tear on your body having to elbow little old ladies out of the way at the bargain rack. You also have the added bonus of two hours and eight minutes more shopping time here instead of driving there. Math is our friend.
4. You will be helping a friend or neighbor or maybe a person in need. Local businesses prefer to hire local. Jobs are created for people of all ages. That server at your local restaurant may be working their way through college (And as an aside, ALWAYS TIP YOUR SERVERS). That clerk at the checkout may be working a second job to pay for her kids’ Christmas. Many of these locally owned businesses are the ones who support free local events like the Evening Shade Concerts in May, your favorite charities, your child’s school play, your son’s soccer team, your granddaughter’s dance troupe, your civic club’s pancake breakfast, disaster relief efforts and other nonprofit missions. They’re giving back to the community. Shouldn’t we reward that good will?
5. Last, but certainly not least, It’s FUN! Make it a treasure hunt!
You can make a difference. With every local purchase, your patronage positively impacts our community, the vitality of our downtown and the sustainability of our community and its economy.
Thank you for buying local!
... And, as I said in the beginning, Happy Thanksgiving to all and please have a very Merry Christmas!
(Editor’s Note: This guest “Viewpoint” was written and submitted to the Cleveland Daily Banner by Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.)