Shopping local keeps the community strongPublished 9:51am Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Guest Column: By Randy Kehr
We all face the same holiday shopping dilemmas. What do we buy for our loved ones, and where do we buy it?
There isn’t an easy answer to the “what” but there is an easy answer to the “where.” It is extremely important to our community that you seek to “find it first in Freeborn County.”
Shopping locally is the single most important thing that you can do for your retail community, and it is one that makes perfect sense. Businesses thrive when supported by the local population. Employees of the company have stability in their employment when you shop in Freeborn County. It does not matter if the business is downtown, at the mall, or on one of our major thoroughfares. If you shop at Freeborn County businesses, you are keeping your money in our many communities and helping these businesses grow.
Many of our retail outlets have an online presence. Certainly, if it’s a locally owned business, purchasing online is appropriate. If it’s a national chain, verify that the item is available in store and make the purchase at our local outlet.
If the item is not in the store, ask the local outlet to order the item. You might have to wait for the item, but it’s one more positive commitment to the community. Also, when you are tempted to purchase from a retail outlet outside our community, be certain that you have first exhausted the possibilities here. This seems like something we would all do naturally, but as the Internet continues to grow, we sometimes forget that our community is built on local business.
Another tool to use in supporting local businesses is the Chamber Bucks program. This will not only be a positive statement, but they, too, help our local businesses continue to grow. The Chamber Bucks program is a service provided to the members of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. They can be used at any chamber member business.
They are specifically designed to keep dollars in Freeborn County. These are sold at straight retail value and are redeemed in the same manner. One does not need to be a chamber member to purchase them as gifts or company rewards, however.
In these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to spend our money wisely and locally. The number of local businesses that use Chamber Bucks to reward employees continues to grow as does the number of everyday people who purchase them for themselves, family and friends. Our Chamber Bucks program is our gift to our members.
Once again, in order to keep our local businesses strong and vital (and in our community), we need to patronize them at every opportunity. We need to let them know of our support by showing up at their cash register.
Randy Kehr is the executive director of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.