Sunday, December 21, 2014

Think local first


As the holiday hype and hysteria begin in the national media about Black Friday now becoming Black Thanksgiving Night and Cyber Monday (which itself has descended into Cyber All the Time), we are called to give pause and consideration to the idea of “Think Local First” — all the time, not just for a certain fiscally frantic weekend or two out of the year.

Rather than simply promoting “buying” local, we are suggesting a larger role as stewards. By “thinking” local, we can make choices that have dramatic impact on our local community, economies and environment.

We recognize we will rarely be able to buy everything we need or use from local independent businesses, but we are advocating that people first think local — look first for local and locally-owned sources of things we need and want to maximize the impact of our daily actions and purchasing decisions.

By thinking and perpetuating a local-first campaign throughout the year, we become aware of what’s really here and then we can begin to understand the economic and social advantages that independent and local businesses bring to our community. The goal then is to help develop a thriving local economy by maximizing the potential of local businesses and transfer market share from non-local to local independently owned stores and shops.

One of the greatest things we can do to support Ottawa is to patronize our neighbor-merchants. Compared to their national competitors, local independent businesses recycle more money back into the local economy and give greater support to Ottawa’s nonprofit and civic needs. Our local merchants are better positioned to respond to the special issues and concerns of the community because they are more tied to Ottawa’s future.

Additionally, unlike a homogenized Anyplace, America, Ottawa reflects a community with vibrant independent businesses and thus retains its unique character as a great place to live and visit. In promoting our locals first, we support a thriving local economy and an above average quality of life.

At the end of the day, long after the ribbons and wrappings have been stashed or trashed, Ottawa will continue to experience an economic prosperity and an enhanced life filled with great landscaped walking trails, beautiful Victorian houses and storefronts, dining and performing arts that transport us beyond the mundane, and festivals and events that truly reflect a focused decision to put locals, both merchants and consumers, first.

— Becci Shisler, Ottawa Main Street Association, program director

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