Photo by j on Unsplash

Dollars of Difference 

You’ve heard the mantra: Buy local. We’re not trying to scold, but this time, we really mean it.

Doing your holiday shopping with Charleston businesses in 2020 will go even further to help local people feeling the effects of the past year. With each passing week as the coronavirus rages, long-term outlooks remain uncertain for local workers and the small businesses that help them pay their bills. With little to no hope for our leaders to take it seriously (much less help), loyal local customers may be the only real lifelines left. This is an unfortunate reality, but we must still try to do what we can to help, despite being all but abandoned by the president, Congress and our governor.

The coming holiday season will be weird for all of us. As we try to keep some semblance of normalcy by giving gifts to lighten the spirits of the people close to us, we can double our impact by shopping local:

Local businesses thrive in Charleston. Holy City business owners reported successes before heading into the coronavirus even as tourism grew and the city continued attracting competing corporate retail and service businesses. For the second year in a row, Lowcountry Local First (LLF) reported year-over-year revenue growth in 2019 among 68% of its member businesses, representing more than 12,000 workers.

Even after you spend it, your dollar stays local. Supporting that local restaurant is great, but where are they turning around and spending my hard-earned money? According to LLF, 64% of its members reported sourcing at least half of their businesses’ products and services from other locally owned entities. Spending locally recycles three times more of your dollars in the community, compared to money spent with non-local businesses, according to LLF.

A local focus helps everybody. An intentional focus on cultivating local businesses and culture in Charleston translates directly to improved quality of life and attention to issues that affect you. When businesses are owned by local people, they’re the ones who make their voices heard to city council and school board, not some corporate lackey. Local owners can get to know their employees and understand their challenges instead of far-flung executives riding roughshod over our neighbors just to shore up their balance sheets.

It’s easy. We don’t need to tell you how many creative and generous people have chosen to set up shop and do business in Charleston. That success can only continue and grow with more support from you.

Even during the best of times, when you walk into a store or shop online and seek out products and services from businesses owned and staffed by local people, you’re sustaining a virtuous cycle that keeps our area’s culture alive and exciting.

We hope you always try to buy local, but in this tough year, be more intentional about it — for all of us.