Our View: Consider shopping locally this holiday season
Mother Nature didn’t exactly cooperate with the inaugural Merry Mainstreet event held Saturday in downtown Steamboat Springs, but the celebration nonetheless achieved the desired effect: attracting foot traffic to the downtown shopping district.
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs and its merchant members have taken a proactive approach to encouraging local shopping this holiday season. This year’s “Downtown Bound” campaign was introduced by Epilogue Book Co. owner Erica Fogue and inspired by Indie Bound, which promotes independent bookstores.
The campaign, which emphasizes the community and economic benefits of shopping locally, is particularly important in difficult economic times. Money spent in Steamboat and Routt County is more likely to remain in Steamboat and Routt County, thus supporting the local work force by helping employers keep jobs in place. Money spent locally also contributes to sales tax revenues, the principal source of the city of Steamboat Springs’ general operating revenues.
Although we similarly encourage residents to consider shopping for holiday gifts at local stores this year, we understand that the decision to shop locally is part of a two-way street. Consumers understandably want to stretch their dollars as much as possible, particularly in a struggling economy. Purchasing an item in a local store that can be found cheaper online or on the Front Range is a tough sell to many budget-conscious shoppers. At the end of the day, we’re a community that thrives on market decisions – the decision of whether to purchase items from a local merchant being no different than a vacationer deciding to invest their money in a vacation to Northwest Colorado.
Therefore, the challenge for local retailers is to offer desirable products at a reasonable price. Tourists always will be attracted to T-shirt shops and other retailers offering Steamboat-specific merchandise, but locals are a more difficult customer to please.
With that in mind, we hope all residents consider purchasing at least some of their gifts from local merchants this holiday season. Take an evening to stroll downtown Steamboat and poke your head in some of the new and repositioned storefronts. And don’t be afraid to open your wallet to purchase a good product accompanied by friendly service.
There undoubtedly will be some items on your gift list that can’t be found in Routt County. But for the ones that can, we encourage you to take a thoughtful approach to shopping locally and keeping your hard-earned dollars circulating in the local economy.
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