Every year we say (and hear) shop local, shop local, shop local.
But what makes it important to shop local?
The answer comes down to the health of the local economy.
Of course, shoppers have many alternatives to local businesses. But we will pick on Amazon.
How many people does Amazon employ in Lincoln County?
We cannot swear to it – perhaps, somewhere in Lincoln County, some lonely telecommuter toils quietly for the e-commerce behemoth – but we estimate the answer at zero.
Now, how many people does Sherman’s employ in Lincoln County?
And, of course, Amazon affects more than bookstores. You can find just about anything on Amazon. Or so we hear. Hey, there are some things you can’t find around here!
In addition to jobs, when you shop local, it creates what economists call a multiplier effect.
It works like this: if you buy a book at Sherman’s, Sherman’s uses some of the money to pay its employees. Its employees then go across the street and buy a sandwich at Metcalf’s. They take their car to Colby & Gale for an oil change. They buy their local newspaper, but, you know, only if they care about their community and want to be engaged and informed citizens.
These businesses then use some of the Sherman’s employee’s money to pay their employees, who spend it at other local businesses, and on and on and on.
There are reasons beyond economics to shop local.
One benefit is seeing people you know and like to see, but might not run into otherwise.
We have not seen anyone we know on Amazon.
When you shop local, you tend to find things you weren’t looking for but are glad you found and think you might not have been able to live without had you not found them.
We were at Clark’s Farms in Damariscotta the other day to buy a Christmas tree (real trees are available on Amazon, believe it or not) and found the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts and chocolate-chip cookies. We have yet to find any good doughnuts online.
Another difference between online and local shopping may be a positive or a negative, depending on how you feel about being watched.
The internet likes to show you products similar to something you are looking at or were looking at yesterday or maybe were just thinking about. Is the internet inside our brain?
So far we have not gone into any local shops and had a clerk come up to us and say, “Remember yesterday when you were looking at a new coat down the street? I was watching you – I always watch you – and here are three coats similar in style and price to the one you were looking at! Want one? Do you? Don’t worry, I’ll show you again later!”
Shop local this Christmas season. When you shop local, you make your community stronger.