As we recover from the Thanksgiving weekend and move full steam ahead into the holidays, I feel it is important to remind ourselves about the meaning of the season that we are entering. Many of us might already be feeling the stresses of managing work, family, shopping, preparing, decorating and all of the other things associated with the modern holiday season.
Regardless of religion or specific traditions that we participate in, the one thing we all have in common and expect to experience in the coming month is sharing and community. Around this time of the year, we have a desire to spend time with each other; we attend parties, exchange gifts, eat a lot more than usual and are generally more social than the rest of the year.
Last Saturday, my family and I participated in Small Business Saturday – a concept that encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local – and give them a boost between the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy known as Black Friday for big box sales and Cyber Monday for online deals.
We bought gifts at Crafted, at stores in downtown San Pedro and on Western Avenue. While there are many theories about the effects of shopping local, there is no doubt in my mind that the concept has many benefits for our community. Not only are researchers finding that there is a profound economic impact of keeping money in town, but I believe the connections merchants build with the community when they are a part of it creates emotional ties that are crucial to developing a vibrant culture.
Owners like Peggy Lindquist of The Corner Store, Otto Henke of Urban Feet, Terry Katnich of Ace Hardware and Mona Sutton of the Omelette and Waffle Shop have connections to San Pedro. They give back to the community.
When you shop local, a portion of the sales tax you pay is directly funding essential government services like police, fire, and street maintenance for your own community. When you shop outside the City of Los Angeles, you’re paying for someone else to have smoother streets, lower crime and faster fire department response times. So how is it that I start with reminding everyone about the “Reason for the Season” and I end up talking about consumerism?
There is no going back from the culture of consumerism we have all chosen to participate in. Even though we may daydream about escaping the stresses of it all, the reality is that it has become part of our DNA and we love both giving and receiving. So, if we agree that we want the shopping element to be one of the things that brings us together as a community during the season, I am advocating that we as a culture of neighbors use our buying power for our own good – which means we buy local.
While I agree that the Small Business Saturday campaign is a great way to bring awareness to each other about the benefits of shopping local, I believe we must adopt the concept into our routines more than just one day per year.
This is the perfect time to remind us that the value of our community is only as big as the effort and energy we contribute to it. Let’s remember to support each other as often as we can afford to and let’s build a community that is sustainable and thriving.
Doing this will improve the quality of life for all of us by making our local economy strong, our relationships stronger and allowing us to enjoy each other in the ways intended by the spirit of the holiday season. spt