Lawrence Laundry: Shop local this holiday season

Your dollar has power. Every time you spend, you say, “I support this. Please keep doing what you’re doing.”

This holiday season, instead of picking up a sixer of Bud Light before heading to your sister’s house to play board games, opt for a growler of beer from Free State Brewery, 636 Mass., or 23rd Street Brewery, 3512 Clinton Parkway.

If wine is your game, get a bottle that doesn’t have a carbon footprint the size of Sasquatch’s. Wyldewood Cellars, 835 Mass., has quite the selection from their vineyard in Mulvane.

If you’re searching for the perfect gift for friends or family, take the time to look around at local shops. I know you were set on buying an electronic picture frame or a DVD player for your in-laws (for the fourth year in a row), but, come on, put some creativity into your gift-giving! They’ll appreciate it, and you’ll be making a difference in your community. Here’s how:

  • Local shops have one-of-a-kind items. While “local” doesn’t necessarily mean “handmade,” local producers are more likely to have unique items that you won’t be able to find at a store that sells more-than-mass-produced items. Instead of commenting, “Oh, I saw that at Target last week,” strangers will forever praise your originality.
  • Shopping locally boosts the local economy. National surveys tell us 73 cents of every dollar spent at a locally owned independent business remains in the community. When a dollar is spent at a local branch of a national chain store, only 43 cents stays local. Granted, that’s better than a return of zero, which is what happens when you shop online.
  • It’ll make you feel good. You’ve probably seen the owner of a store in which you shop out for a walk with his family or at a downtown festival. Being able to support those who live, work and generally make our community better will make you feel good. And feeling good is important. I could tell you why, but we don’t have time for me to launch into a health rant.
  • You can further increase your impact. The Lawrence GiveBack card, to me, is the greatest thing that’s happened since Tres Mexicanos started Taco Tuesday. Not only does it brilliantly incentivize shopping locally by offering rebates for every 200 points you earn, it gives back a certain percentage of the price of your purchase to a local nonprofit of your choice. And it’s completely free.
  • Come on, it’s just cooler.

Shopping locally is important, but some of us don’t have the time (or patience) to putz around 20 local shops trying to find an item our hard-to-please daughter is going to love. I don’t have a daughter, but trust me, I feel your pain. That’s why next week, Lawrence Laundry will feature a last-minute local store gift guide of some popular gifts this year.

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