Be Local Buy Local
Gallery: Be Local Buy Local [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
Why Shopping At Home Matters
By Amanda Jean Elliott
American shoppers plan to spend, on the average, nearly $1,000 during the holiday shopping season this year. Imagine the impact if they did it locally.
“The holidays are when people spend a big portion of their disposable income,” says Vanessa V. owner Lindsey Falgout.
The impact of keeping dollars local is near immeasurable. According to one Civic Economic Study, if you spend $100 at a local business, about $68 stays in your local economy compared to a large business where you spend $100 and only $43 stays in the local economy. Local businesses donate 250 percent more to local causes. And there is the reality that when you keep it local it creates a more unique look for each of our hometowns.
“It is important to shop local because you are supporting the business that made an investment in your community, which enhances your quality of life,” says Youngsville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Penny A. Frederick. “Keeping our dollars local enhances the growth of our community by providing jobs to our residents and improving our tax base thereby we can continue to make improvements that are vital to making Youngsville a great place to work, play and live.”
It’s an effort organizers like Beth Guidry take to heart especially during this time of year. The Economic Development Director for St. Martin says they are planning a shop local campaign to run throughout the year, but this 2016 holiday shopping season is kicking it off.
“We try to not just promote shopping local for tourists, but for our locals as well, for local people to patronize our businesses. We have a great group of people all across Acadiana that have local products,” Guidry says.
Local products in Acadiana are uniquely, well…unique. From local artisans crafting display art and pottery to jewelry and local T-shirts and wares from hip spots like Parish Ink, local goods run the gambit in Acadiana. In a stop at E’s Kitchen you can find local culinary eats (a particularly welcome gift for the Cajuns who have relocated in your life).
The beauty of truly shopping local is that it means sticking close to home, even if you live in one of the smaller cities in Acadiana. In Youngsville, Frederick points toward a variety of options within their borders.
“We have a very diverse group of merchants, retail included unique Louisiana items, home decor, monogramed items, Sugar Mill Pond includes a baby boutique, riding gear, handmade jewelry, art studio,” she says.
While shopping local seems a no brainer, it can be hard for local smaller shops to compete with the mammoth big box stores and their gargantuan advertising campaigns and after Thanksgiving Day sales that slash prices. The outflow of this competition has shown up in communities across the country with Shop Local campaigns that promote local business and use the collective voice to compete.
“It’s about awareness,” Guidry says. “We have a great group of people all across Acadiana who have local products and we are pushing the effort as much as possible. As locals, we forget how many wonderful items we have,” she says.
But, local chambers and retailers aren’t the only ones pushing small businesses especially during the holiday season, Small Business Saturday also gives shoppers an incentive to shop local with the effort’s founder — American Express — even offering shoppers a credit on their cards (on some years) for how much they spend locally the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
“Shopping local helps keep our people employed and our tax base strong,” Guidry says. “We love our national merchants. But, if you’re looking for that unique item look local at Christmastime instead of ‘I’m going to run to that big store.’ Consider shopping local — think a gift certificate from a local restaurant. Think of all the authentic products we have here from local artists who are in the craft guild to restaurants with the best gumbo in town … a local piece of flair that has love and is genuine. I’ve never lived anywhere else in my life and I take for granted what a great place we live in South Louisiana. We want to show our local merchants and the authenticity they bring doesn’t go unnoticed. They can find what you need with our local guys first.”
The idea of shopping local with artisans is taking on a new meaning in Acadiana. In late fall after a conversation with artist Robert Dafford about the need to support local artists Lafayette local buyer Jeremy Broussard began a sort of grassroots campaign he’s dubbed the “Dafford Challenge” that throws the gauntlet for locals to buy one piece of local art each year. And Broussard says Christmas gift giving is a great time to start. Bonus: killing two birds with one stone — local goods and from a local store. The impact that sort of effort could make on our community of artisans is significant.
This year experts expect retails sales to increase online by 7 and 10 percent to as much as $117 million. And yet, local retailers like Falgout point out the one thing that can get at local shops you can’t find anywhere else. Something priceless.
“When you shop local you can walk into a store where the person normally shops and they can help you chose something especially for that person,” says Falgout. “Service —that’s the big difference.”