By Lisa Shrewsberry
Tempted to conquer family wish lists with a few clicks and keystrokes? Shopping online may relieve the impulse to do it all, now, but for conscientious gift buyers, ‘tis the season to keep it local. Retaining a slice of the holiday pie for nearby retailers can reap exponential benefits for local economies.
While the National Retail Federation reports 129 million consumers shopped online on Cyber Monday 2012, according to Kathy Housh, Crossroads Mall manager, this may not be the most optimistic trend for townships.
“If things are available locally, that should be (a resident’s) first priority,” she states.
Considering the number of locally owned businesses and franchises, and corporate store employees who also live and spend in their town, it becomes clear why Housh is passionate about splurging in close proximity.
“I understand going online when you’re looking for something you can’t find here, but it is important to support businesses locally. Plus, you can’t see it, smell it, try it on. How many times have we been disappointed when we bought something online?”
Flashy e-mail ads can’t guarantee the best bargain. If there’s a physical store within reasonable driving distance, buyers can save by taking advantage of individual store specials and sales, ones not available to virtual carts.
Shopping at the local level also eliminates inflated shipping charges and the possibility of unhappy returns. The real devil is in the residuals.
“Buying online means it’s not going to the economy here at all. It’s going to the economy where the corporation is located,” Housh reminds.
This Christmas, commit to exploring local options and to spending in at least one small business where you haven’t before. Leaving a few stockings open for local retailers to fill will ensure a happier, healthier community this New Year and for many to come.
5 Easy Ways to Benefit Your Community this Season
1. Eat local. “We support local agriculture and farmers,” explains The Dish Café co-owner Michelle Rotellini of the importance of supporting homegrown restaurants. “We answered the call of the community. People said they wanted more local non-chain restaurants and a place comfortable for parents and children.” Specializing in farm-to-table food, The Dish offers locals another benefit for the holidays: a private room for meetings or holiday parties (18-25 people) at no extra charge with purchased meals.
Another local business, Instant Karma Cupcakes on Second Avenue in Beckley, stresses quality ingredients as an enticement to eat locally. “(Owner Elise Dixon) makes everything from scratch, every day. Nothing here is mass-produced,” manager Katherine Hendrix explains. To attest to local creativity, the cupcakery’s upcoming flavors will include candy cane red velvet with peppermint white chocolate swirl frosting and cookies and milk cupcakes.
Among many Raleigh County food options: Greenbrier Nurseries’ Farm-To-Table Market and McBee’s Irish Pub.
2. Buy an ornament. Supporting local charities and artists is as easy as adding a new decoration to the Christmas tree. 2013 Coal Country Christmas Ornaments by coal jewelry artist Carol Dameron ($12 each) are available at Little Brick House, Harper Road. Dameron will donate part of the proceeds from this year’s ornament, titled “Hope,” to Hospice of Southern West Virginia.
Glass dancer ornaments by Kathy Hanby, in memory of Cyan Maroney, are on display and for sale at Tamarack (a portion of proceeds to be donated by Hanby to the Remembering Cyan memorial dance scholarship fund - www.rememberingcyan.com )
Beckley-Raleigh Chamber of Commerce ornaments depicting historic and current area landmarks are collector’s items for purchase in limited supply ($10 each). This year’s edition is a Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine two-ornament set including the Superintendent’s House. The BRCCC uses profits from its ornament sales to support its yearly community programs.
Local artist Cyndi Moss’ handpainted tree-bark Santa ornaments add rustic charm to any indoor tree and range from $5-$12, with a portion of proceeds going to the School of Harmony Music Scholarship Fund.
3. Give to a charity … in someone else’s name. For the person who truly has everything, donate an amount comparable to a gift to a local charity, like the United Way of Southern West Virginia or Beckley Area Foundation. Ask for a card or letter acknowledging your donation to be sent to the honoree (www.unitedwayswv .org, www.wvbaf.org).
4. Support arts in the community. A Season Pass to the Beckley Concert Association is a great gift for an individual music lover ($40) or a family ($85) and it continues a 75-year tradition of bringing the universal language of music, of diverse cultures and interpretations, to the area. “Through the years Beckley Concert Association has been able to offer quality performances to the community and we are proud to say we have accomplished this with volunteers only. Through their expertise we have kept up with modern trends in music. Being a season ticket holder offers music lovers and especially children the opportunity to see live music,” encourages Harriet Jones, past president and board member. “Through our student workshops, we have endeavored to stimulate a passion for the performing arts at an early age. We believe that the arts are an integral part of the community's well-being and success. Newcomers to our area are pleased to find so many opportunities for cultural satisfaction,” states Connie Woods. (www.beckleyconcerts.org)
Visual arts abound at the Cynthia Bickey Art Gallery, Beckley, where gift buyers can browse or consider buying admission to an upcoming class for the art and photography lovers on their list.
5. Party local. Rather than keeping it in the home or office for larger crowds, consider supporting a local venue or caterer for supplying the space for your event. Clean up is a breeze and preparations, when you’re not the one doing all the prepping, are infinitely easier. Check out area venues for quotes; many waive the cost of facilities when purchasing food on-site.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org