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This holiday season, consider the value of shopping locally --- not only does it support your local business community, it aids the local consumer as well.

Each year, right at the start of the Christmas shopping season, we invariably circle back to the theme of shopping locally and supporting locally owned businesses. In fact, we readily admit the predictability of our editorial messaging regarding mixing holiday shopping with the needs

of the local small business community.

We know we sound like a broken record, but if we can encourage just a few more readers each year to spend a portion of their holiday shopping budget in the local community, it's worth it.

There is no question the benefits of shopping locally reciprocate to the community as a whole. Study after study published online demonstrates the power and value of purchasing goods and services from local businesses.

For example, small, locally owned businesses employ more than 52 percent of the nation's employees, a 2010 University of Michigan study notes. By shopping locally, you're improving the local economy and workforce, and creating future opportunities for all who live in the community.

Purchase of a good or service at a locally owned shop helps keep that money in the community, what's called the "local multiplier effect." On average, 48 percent of each purchase at a local, independent business is recirculated locally — in other words, 48 cents of every $1 spent at a local business is again spent in the community, according to a 2012 study by the private research firm, Civics Economics. Only 14 percent of purchases at chain stores are recirculated.

Support of local businesses provides more product and service diversity. Ever notice how nearly all towns nowadays offer the same chain-store or franchise goods and services? While often convenient, those are not the shops that define a community's character. Think instead of places like Ichabod's Restaurant, Sunsations, Fibers and Stitches, Top Notch Thrift Store, Dahlgren's Do It Best and Richardson's Furniture, just some of the many small businesses that define the South Columbia County marketplace.

Support for small businesses also shows support for entrepreneurism, which the Institute for Local Self-Reliance notes in a 2012 article as "a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class." A robust small business economy in Scappoose and St. Helens encourages further entrepreneurism down the road, and so on and so on.

In this issue, we focus on just a small portion of some of the goods and services available for sale in Scappoose and St. Helens in our annual gift guide. As you flip through the pages, take note of the many advertising messages from small, locally owned businesses, and take the time this holiday season to explore the many shopping choices available right outside your doorstep.

Ultimately, it's in your best interest — and your family and neighbors' — to do so.

Contract Publishing

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