Commentary:  Commit to supporting local businesses now — and in the future

Post and Courier
December 11, 2020


The holiday season tends to bring with it a renewed sense of optimism and hope for the year ahead. This year, despite it being a seemingly endless uphill battle, is no different.

For more than a decade, Lowcountry Local First has ended its year with a Buy Local-centric public awareness campaign. In the beginning of the nonprofit’s existence, it was a week-long push. It quickly became Buy Local Month, which carried on for several years, but for the first time this year, it extended once again to become Buy Local Season, a two-month pounding of persuasion for the community to shift its dollars to local businesses during the holiday buying blitz.

This campaign touts not only the “why” of buying local and its importance to the overall wellbeing of our area, but the “how” — making it easier to find and support the hundreds of local retailers, personal service providers and food and beverage companies that abound across the Lowcountry. Election Day came and went, but we’ve been asking citizens to “vote for mom and pop” for weeks now. It’s not uncommon to hear or read local businesses’ ads promoting the message that buying local is “more important than ever.” And it’s true. The pandemic has taken a massive toll on many of our local shops and restaurants and the fight isn’t over yet.

As director of marketing and communications for a local economy-building organization, I have been delighted to hear from several citizens that they’ve not just decided to shift 10% or 20% of their holiday spending to local sources this year, but that they would be going all-in on local. Not a dollar would be spent with online mega-retailers or bigbox stores. There seems to be a more potent understanding this year of the great need our local businesses have for our purchases. A dire sense of duty with our dollars has resulted. These pledges and commitments kept are beautiful to witness, something that gives me hope at the end of a rather grim year.

I want to challenge you to go one step further. Shift your dollars, however much you can, because every dollar matters. But don’t just make the shift today, tomorrow or Christmas Eve for you stragglers. Don’t make the shift because it will feel good this holiday season to support your neighbors and get them over their year-end budget hurdles. Make your shift a permanent one — a new normal. Pause and reflect on how good it felt to pass your dollars on in meaningful and purposeful ways, and also perhaps on how easy it was to support those businesses. And simply keep doing it.

You’ve taken the time to discover new sources for that kitchen gadget, that book your dad wants and that new sweater for your friend. Remember those businesses next time you need those items, even if it’s a random Tuesday in March. Love the soap or candle you found locally for loved ones? Get soap from them all year round. Our Buy Local Season campaign exists to highlight the importance of buying local for the holidays, but our local businesses need us every day.

Jordan Amaker is the director of marketing and communications for Lowcountry Local First.

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