Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Shop local

There’s nothing like an arctic blast to make one want to ditch the convenience of online holiday shopping in favor of patronizing locally-based businesses.

But seriously, it’s never been more important to shop local.

For hundreds of Southwest Washington retailers lucky enough to make it this far through the recession and today’s nascent economic recovery, this holiday season will most likely make or break their bottom line in the year ahead.

We’ve already seen what a lackluster holiday shopping season means for local retailers.

Last year, a trifecta of massive layoffs, stock market losses and an icy, snowy start to winter made for one of the most disastrous shopping seasons in regional memory.

For those who lost a job, or had a family member laid off, the sound of jingle bells was replaced with the flap of wallets snapping shut.

Meanwhile, others, with perhaps more money to spend, chose to get gifts from online retailers like – with $25.5 billion spent on Internet holiday purchases, down only 3 percent from the pre-recession holiday season the year before, according to digital sales tracker comScore, Inc.

With that billion-dollar figure in mind, here’s a plea on behalf of local retailers, many of which still teeter on the verge of closing their doors: For every unemployed member of your family, for every laid-off close friend or colleague, buy one present this holiday season from a locally-owned business.

The impact on retailers will be both immediate and long-lasting. And for every dollar spent locally, shoppers will help provide an antidote to Clark County’s disastrous 12.9 percent unemployment rate by supporting the real engine of regional job growth – small businesses.

So we call on holiday shoppers to brave the bitter cold this week and hit locally-owned stores from Main Street, Vancouver to Main Street, Ridgefield and everywhere in between.

Yes, we know it can be much more convenient and pleasant to sit with one’s laptop by the fireplace and point-and-click through the holiday season. And yes, we know it’s cold out there.

But don’t worry: this is why ear-muffs were invented.


Mary Sisson said...

Thank you for promoting local business. There are too many studies to ignore that show the huge impact on the local economy when people support locally-owned businesses. That's why the mayor proclaimed December Shop Local month, urging everyone to shift 10% of their shopping to locally-owned, independent businesses. The benefits are so worth it.