Support local businesses and perhaps you can avoid the mayhem Black Friday brought

Imagine the cozy scene on Christmas morning: A 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 around 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 our area 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 buying local first.

Here in Lake Oswego we are blessed with an amazing list of small, locally owned stores. Here, 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 fundraising opportunity that walks through their door.

In Lake Oswego, the city council proclaimed Nov. 26 as Small Business Saturday in an effort to promote a strong community and strong local economy. While support for one day is nice, support year-round is even better. Give back to these local firms that support the enormous variety of local fundraising efforts year-round.

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 money locally:

* Significantly more money continues to circulate in this neck of the woods 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 more 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.

* 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 Lake Oswego 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.

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