Few people really enjoy the Christmas shopping routine of trudging from store to store, often battling crowds of others seeking the perfect gifts at good prices. Some conclude it would be better to buy online or through catalogs.
They are mistaken, having failed to wonder whether those crowds of shoppers have good reasons for patronizing local stores.
In fact, they have lots of good reasons.
First and foremost is that those with the most success in finding those perfect gifts often find them at local stores - where they can look at, touch, try out and perhaps even taste or smell the merchandise. There is no disappointment in learning that online picture was not quite accurate or that the color is not quite right or the "super, gigantic, king-size" description was, shall we say, just a bit exaggerated.
Need help? A second opinion, perhaps? Local stores are full of salespeople eager to assist with the most honest assessments they can provide. They hope you'll come back, after all.
And though "Black Friday" is over for this year, excellent pricing on many holiday must-haves is not. Local stores will be running specials right up until Dec. 24. Even their regular prices are competitive.
Your gift wasn't quite right for the recipient and needs to be returned, perhaps exchanged? No problem at local stores.
But there are other reasons to visit local stores that, whether you know it or not, patronize you in a big way.
They pay taxes to our communities, counties and states, helping to ensure our schools stay open, our streets are maintained and a host of other government services are funded. Online retailers pay no property taxes here. Many do not collect sales taxes for our cities and states.
And there is the matter of supporting worthy causes. In one way or another - often more generously than their customers know - most local stores contribute. It may be to sponsor the local youth soccer team, to provide door prizes for a benefit to help a sick child or assist the volunteer fire department. It may be to provide a discount to organizations buying gifts or food for the needy. Or it may be in direct cash donations to charities.
Try calling an online retailer and asking for a donation.
There is another very important reason to do your Christmas shopping locally. How many of your neighbors work at the Internet-only store in California?
Many - the number may surprise you - depend on local stores for employment.
So yes, there are excellent reasons why so many of your neighbors, friends and family members do their Christmas shopping locally - and why you should, too.
It can be easy during the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season to overlook the fact that for the less fortunate among us, there will be no holiday from need.
Children whose parents cannot afford those toys our youngsters think they have to receive, adults unable to find work to pay for lavish holiday feasts and senior citizens whose fixed incomes preclude much celebration at Christmas should be in our thoughts and prayers during the next few weeks.
They also should be included in our Christmas season budgeting. Just a few dollars from each of us can made an extraordinary difference in how merry the holiday is for our needy neighbors.
Many churches and other organizations make it a point to provide toys, food, even warm clothing to those who would not have them otherwise. But time is short. Your help is needed soon.
Please give. Think of it, if you wish, as really "keeping
- Ogden Newspapers