Try local first and avoid the mayhem


Imagine the cozy scene from Christmas morning: The young boy or girl, visiting with mom while she is safely on the other side of bulletproof glass. Mom, in her festive orange clothing, is explaining how her behavior summed up the spirit of Christmas as she aimed pepper spray at other shoppers as they rushed to grab up Xboxes at a Los Angeles area Walmart.

Welcome to Black Friday in America. And welcome to America's hypocrisy.

It was only a month ago when people gathered round the water cooler, speaking in solidarity against the evils of corporate greed. But a month later, Americans are gorging at the trough of excess.

There is another way. And it's not too late.

With the shopping season just now under way, folks in East County could take a shot at making their spending count for something more than just another expensive gift. You've heard this before, and it's never made more sense - shoppers should try local first.

Here in East County we are blessed with an amazing list of small, locally owned stores. There, you find smaller crowds and happier people. These stores often are owned and operated by people who share your zip code, who support your son's or daughter's school, and who donate time, money and effort to every local fundraiser that walks through their door.

A gift purchased from one of these stores does more than line the pocket of some corporate executive in Chicago and is an investment in community and the quality of life here at home.

The facts back that up. Here's what happens when you spend locally:

• Significantly more money continues to circulate in East County when purchases are made locally. More money is kept in the community because businesses in our local area often purchase from other local businesses.

• Nonprofit organizations receive an average three times greater support from smaller, locally owned business owners than they do from large businesses.

• Businesses generally use local suppliers, which require less transportation. This means less contribution to congestion and pollution.

• Most new jobs are provided by local businesses. Small, local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community.

• Most businesses in our local area are owned by people who live in our community. They are less likely to leave and are more invested in our community's future.

• Local businesses in town centers require little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services.

• A marketplace of tens of thousands of diverse businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

• When dollars are kept local, it increases the amount of taxes collected for public safety services. Safer communities happen when we spend locally.

Try local first

We understand that sometimes it's difficult, or even impossible, to find what you're looking for locally. That's why we advocate, 'try local first.' When necessary, spending money that leaves East County is understandable and acceptable.

But all too often, shoppers simply resort to the big boxes without any thought to the small stores scattered throughout town.

This Christmas shopping season, please commit to stepping outside the big box and into the comfort of a local business.

You won't have to worry about a brawl with another customer. And you won't need pepper spray.