Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shop Local Holiday Initiative

Capital District Local First and Metroland have teamed up to help support local shopping this holiday season. The idea is to pledge to spend at least $100 of your holiday budget at local, independently owned businesses. These businesses will offer you a pledge card, where you can log in your purchases. When you reach $100 - it happens pretty quickly, doesn't it? - send your pledge card into Metroland to become eligible for a drawing where you can win gift certificates to some of these local merchants. When you visit the Local First website, http://www.capitaldistrictlocalfirst.com/, you can find a listing of Local First members. The Good Leaf is a member and you can pick up your pledge card at our shop.

Local First recognizes that it may not be possible to do all your shopping locally, and I'm glad to hear that because I'm kind of really into Amazon, and would hate to feel like I should give it up. This is a guilt-free initiative.

Now I will proceed to my soapbox. If you can't stand that kind of stuff, stop reading now, and just drop by the shop and pick up your pledge card while you buy some really nice holiday tea gifts and warm up with a nice, smoky Lapsang Souchong. Click here to check out some of our gift package ideas.

Why shop local?

First, (I pulled this from the Local First website): One study showed that $68 out of every $100 dollars that is spent at a local business stays in the community versus $43 of every $100 spent at a chain. Any little part that we can play to help our economy is very important.

I think there are other reasons to shop locally as well. Local business owners are often willing to go the extra mile both to earn, and to keep your business. While you may find good customer service at your local box store, you're unlikely to find the dedication to exceptional service you'll experience at many independent businesses. It's nice to get to know your local merchants - there's a sense of community that you can feel a part of, and it's a powerful antidote to the anonymity that we experience sitting on the internet, closed off in our cubicles, texting and IMing, and being carried like cattle through the crowds at the mega-malls.

Sometimes it does cost more to shop local - not always, though. And in tough economic times like this, it can truly be a difficult choice. But I think we have to believe that the small choices we make each day will make a difference, and we all can't just continue to always take the easy way and wait for better times. Most of us are probably not part of the problem, but we can take small steps to be part of the solution. Change may be coming, but it's not coming without our help.

Finally, I've noticed that although I frequently struggle when faced with a choice between the "easier" path and the "better" path, I always feel pretty good about myself when I choose the "better" path. I can make the comparison because I haven't always taken the "better" path. It may not sound noble, but at the end of the day, it's all about feeling good about ourselves.

Oh, and one more thing - you can get really nice, interesting, unique and meaningful stuff from your local independent businesses, and that's just good clean fun.

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