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Local shopping helps the community

Christmas shopping is in full swing and it's easy to get caught up in the bottom-line chasing of bargains -- wherever they might be found.

But where you spend your money does matter -- and now is a good time to step back and consider a few things beyond the lowest possible price:

For one, there's the economic impact. Remember, when you purchase at a local business, more money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms.

Purchasing locally helps grow other businesses as well as the local tax base.

Here are some other reasons to think twice before going online or out of town to shop:

• Local businesses donate more to local charities than non-local owners.

• Part of what makes the community unique are the businesses there -- and that plays a big factor in people's overall satisfaction with where they live and the value of their home and property.

• Most new jobs are provided by local businesses.

More local jobs means less commuting, which means more time and less traffic and pollution.

• Customer service is better. It's easy for shoppers to sacrifice customer service in the quest for bargains, but in the long run, that service is priceless.

Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise for better customer service.  You are also going to see these people around town, which promotes trust and builds bonds.

• Local businesses are more likely to invest in the community, since they are owned or operated by people who live in here, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community's greater good.

• You sometimes hear about exerting influence with your purchasing choices, or "voting with your wallet." It's a fact that local business responds to their customers.

Good things happen when a community supports its merchants.

More money re-circulates when residents shop locally, and it creates up to 75 percent more tax revenue, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

Local business owners live in the community, invest in the community and are concerned with the future of the community.

Check out the local shops, stores and boutiques -- and for those hard-to-buy for people, think outside the box:

How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber? 

Everyone loves a sparkling clean car. Locally-owned detail shops and car washes offer gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Don't forget restaurants -- they offer gift certificates that make good presents.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or  motorcycle, done at a local shop?

And lots of people would love the services of a local cleaning lady. 

You probably know someone whose computer could use a tune-up, and those services can be found locally, too.

Plan your holiday outings at local restaurants and leave your server a good holiday tip.

And, how about going out to see a play or movie at the theater? Or finding a bar that invests in live music and local bands?

Give local merchants a chance -- shopping locally really is good for everyone.