This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.
Started your Christmas list yet? Save some room on it for gifts bought from local merchants, especially those independently owned businesses that bring character and diversity to local communities.
While the recession has been hard on almost everyone, small businesses have been particularly affected. Many have closed, adding to the depressing number of “Space available” signs in local storefronts. Others are barely hanging on, and this holiday season could be make-or-break time for many of them.
Buying local – the subject reader columnist Kyle Price wrote about last week – isn’t just a boon for merchants’ bottom line. It also keeps dollars in the community – paying local workers’ salaries and paying sales tax to local governments so that they can provide vital services. This is especially important in states, like Washington, that rely heavily on sales taxes because they don’t have a state income tax.
Those dollars add up, according to the 3/50 Project – a nonprofit advocate for independent, brick-and-mortar businesses. The 3/50 Project encourages people to spend $50 monthly at three local businesses they’d hate to see disappear. (Read a letter to the editor on the subject.)
For every $100 spent at locally owned independent businesses, 3/50 says, $68 stays in the community in the form of taxes, payroll and other expenditures. Buy from a national chain, and $43 stays here. But spend that $100 online and it goes somewhere else, unless the company has a presence in this state. Although legislation has been introduced in Congress to capture local sales tax from online purchases, its prospects for passage are dim.
Sure, buying online has a convenience factor. Why not save those purchases for gifts going out of the area? Online merchants can send those gifts directly to the recipients and you avoid having to haul gifts to the post office during the holiday season. But for gifts that will stay local, buy local.
We all have a stake in keeping more of our consumer dollars right here, paying our neighbors’ salaries and funding local services. Committing to buying local strengthens our communities.