Shop local: It makes a difference | Editorial

Life on our islands was once described by a local writer as similar to living on a ship at sea. We are largely on our own out here in the northwesternmost county in the continental United States.

With that in mind, “shop local” takes on new meaning. Money we spend here stays here. It helps pay local wages, support local public services, pay local wages, put food on local tables, pay local rents and mortgages. And it funnels through to the many non-profits by the generous donations of local businesses.

Do your holiday shopping on the mainland, and your money stays on the mainland.

Shop local. It really makes a difference. That’s obvious in the budget cuts our local governments have been making. Those cuts followed recessionary declines in sales and lodging tax revenues.

Shopping local makes sense in other ways too. First, you know who you’re buying from — someone you may have known for years — and often you’ll purchase an item that is made right here on the islands.

Second, local items are often unique and warm and, well, island-ish.

Clothing made from local alpaca fiber and sheep wool can be found in island stores. You’ll also find locally produced food products, as well as award-winning vintages from local wineries, in local stores. And if you’re looking for green items, the islands offer more than their share of eco-friendly goods.

The islands are a world-class destination, known for their natural beauty. Consider buying marine wildlife-related items at the Whale Museum in downtown Friday Harbor. Or a gift certificate for kayaking or other outdoor activities. A getaway for two at a local inn is a wonderful experience for a local or mainlander on your gift list.

And, of course, shopping on the islands includes all the cheer and lights and fun of the holiday events that accompany the season.

Here’s what an islander wrote the Chamber of Commerce last year:

“The variety of stores and merchandise here couldn’t be matched by any box store or mall. We got fun educational toys for the grandkids, unique gifts for many of those hard-to-please family members, and there was no end of great ideas displayed at our fingertips. All within a few short blocks …

“There were no long ferry rides, no freeways or gas fillups. Could we have saved a couple of bucks? I don’t care. We had a pleasant, easy-going afternoon, bought the majority of our Christmas presents, stopped for a bite to eat at one our many great restaurants here, and got home in time to start dinner. And we feel the spirit of the holidays now, having done our small part to support our fellow islanders.

“I urge everyone to try it — You might be surprised at not only the variety, but the good prices.”

There is a lot to enjoy – and share – in shopping locally. We wish you all the best this holiday season.

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