Local: The Gift that Gives Back

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Christmas town

Vacant storefronts and barely-surviving businesses dominated downtown Chillicothe when I moved to Ohio in 2011. Today downtown is home to thirty thriving businesses, offering everything from retail items to food, personal and professional services. The revival of the downtown area and the continued success of its tenants depends on residents’ support and contribution to the local economy.

Shop local, Give local

Every dollar you spend in the local economy has a threefold multiplier effect: direct, indirect and induced, according to the American Independent Business Alliance. A direct impact occurs when businesses spend revenue to operate the business itself; purchasing inventory from local vendors, paying utilities, rent, and wages to employees. Indirect impact is the result of recirculating dollars in the local economy. The induced impact is additional consumer spending that happens when employees, business owners and others spend earned income locally. ¹

Supporting local businesses has non-economic benefits too. It cultivates hometown character and creates cohesion among community members. “It’s great to see decorated storefronts downtown instead of boarded-up windows,” a longtime resident of Chillicothe said, “The new downtown Chillicothe is something the entire community is proud of.”

Giving local gifts communicates your hometown pride. Givers can share the story behind the gift and what makes it special. For example, give a fruit basket from a local farm and share how your family looks forward to visiting the farm’s pick-your-own each fall. Give a personal recommendation with a gift card to an independent coffee shop, “The jumbo cinnamon rolls are the best!”

Local food makes great stocking stuffers and party gifts: wine, honey, jerky, candies and other products from area producers. These items are easy to ship and send a piece of your hometown to far-away family and friends. My husband has standing dibs on a turkey leg at holiday meals. One year he was stationed in Korea and missed the holidays with his family. His grandmother mailed the turkey leg across the Pacific Ocean. Although I don’t recommend sending perishable items, sending nonperishable local food products are a way to make the world feel a little smaller.

Small businesses are a great place to find locally made body products, housewares and jewelry. Small, independently owned businesses often serve as a retail gateway for local producers and artisans, who can work directly with the manager to stock products at a small volume, instead of coordinating a large volume through a regional distributor.

Don’t forget services- the person who has everything will appreciate the gift of local spa services, classes, or tickets to experience area attractions.

Buy local, online

No time to go downtown? You can still shop and give local online. Many local businesses have ecommerce websites that allow customers to pick-out, purchase and ship gifts without stepping foot in the store.

Looking for local food and products? You can find local produce, beef, dairy, herbs and value-added product at www.localharvest.org.

You can find locally made clothing, crafts and retail items from over 300 Ohio small businesses and farmers at Celebrate Local shops in Cincinnati and Columbus, or buy online at www.celebratelocalohio.com.

  1. “The Multiplier Effect of Local Independent Businesses.” American Independent Business Alliance. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2018 from https://www.amiba.net/resources/multiplier-effect/

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