With Christmas lists scribbled down in notebooks or on the notes in your phone, it’s easy to get bogged down by the holiday shopping season. There are significant others you need to buy gifts for, friends, family members, and don’t forget about that office party you still need to find a gift for. While we may want to get all of our shopping done online from the comfort of our couch, it’s important for us to not forget about our neighbors and community members who run small businesses.
Small business owners are vital to a community, especially ones like my hometown of Hayward, WI. Small businesses that are run well can bring tourism to your town and that not only helps the business owners out, but it also helps your community out as well. When people spend money in your town, that’s only going to make it a more vibrant place to live. Money gets put back into things like festivals, food drives, charities, and schools. Many sponsorships and donations come from local area businesses to help put on community events throughout the year. Whether it’s a large scale event like the American Birkebeiner or a show happening at The Park Center. Without those small businesses thriving, many organizations would struggle to get donations for their fundraiser events. One of my biggest fears is for our Main Street to be filled with vacant buildings with “for rent” signs in the corners of the shop windows.
I know companies like Amazon, Target and Walmart have become small business killers, especially when it comes to online shopping. It’s almost addictive to add items into your shopping cart, hit “place order”, and then track the shipment of your package like you are an FBI agent tracking a fugitive. (Oh, how we love to see those boxes outside of our doorsteps.) I’m guilty of it too, but we can’t forget about our neighbors on Main Street. When you buy from those area businesses, you are helping someone put food on the table, keep the lights on, take a well needed vacation, pay their workers, etc. There’s so much more to spending your time downtown than one might think.
So before you hop online or go pushing and shoving your way in line at a large retail store (which we know doesn’t happen in small towns, because that person you shoved was probably your son or daughter's third grade teacher) be sure to keep your local shop owners in mind. I’m not suggesting you can only spend your hard earned dollars locally, but don’t forget to swing by the shop that helped sponsor your traveling basketball team all of those years ago. Help someone keep the lights on and a smile on their face. Don’t forget about Main Street.
- Dalton Hessel