Today is officially recognized nationwide as Small Business Saturday. Started in 2010 by American Express, this spotlight on small businesses has grown to a nationally recognized shopping event. The effort, even recognized by national and state government, is geared toward promoting the rich and diverse merchants and eateries in our communities. Today is a good reminder to take a stroll down one of the many main streets in our county and visit a new or favorite local merchant. We encourage you to make it a habit beyond just the holiday season.
Doing business locally is an investment in our community. It not only supports the owners and employees of those businesses, which are our neighbors and our friends, but it supports the county as a whole. The website http://sustainableconnections.org/ lists 10 reasons why you should shop local. Notably, local businesses reinvest 25 percent more of each dollar you spend back into the local economy, when compared to national companies. They do this by sourcing materials locally and using local vendors for goods and services. Local companies also donate 250 percent more, on average, back to area nonprofit organizations, something we can all be proud to support. Shopping locally over time can help build the overall economy, too. Studies show that “entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.”
We are fortunate in Centre County to have boundless options; locally owned businesses can be found almost anywhere you look. In Bellefonte, Boalsburg, downtown State College, Lemont, Millheim and Phillipsburg, small businesses band together to create an experience. It’s not just running in to pick up a quick gift or necessity (although that’s totally acceptable too), shopping local can become an event. Spend the afternoon strolling the streets, enjoying the holiday atmosphere and getting acquainted with the entrepreneurs that help fuel the local economy. There is a wide variety of art, merchandise, food and supplies to be discovered. Actually, hundreds of options exist in Centre County. With that kind of abundance, there is something for everyone.
Give those online shopping carts a rest and get out there today and explore what the merchants working hard to make life better in Centre County have to offer. We guarantee you will find a hidden gem you didn’t know about and start laying the groundwork for what we hope will become a yearlong habit.
Tell us what you think. We will compile your letters for publication in a few days. You can send your letter quickly by going to www.centredaily.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/submit-letter.