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Editorial - Ten reasons to keep shopping at home

An Alexandria business owner sent us something that he said should be printed every week to remind people about how important it is to shop locally.

The information, "Ten Reasons to Shop Local," is originally from Tim Mitchell, included in the Northwest Earth Institute's Choices for Sustainable Living course book. It was also printed in E-Magazine, an online "clearinghouse" of information, news and resources for people concerned about the environment.

The information shows that the "shop local" philosophy isn't just a catchphrase designed to pump up local businesses; it's one way the average citizen can truly help the town they call home.

Here are the 10 reasons:

1. Protect local character and prosperity. Your town is unlike any other city in the world. By choosing to support locally owned businesses, you help maintain its diversity and distinctive flavor.

2. Community well-being. Locally owned businesses build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbors and by contributing more to local causes.

3. Local decision making. Local ownership means that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

4. Keeping dollars in the local economy. Your dollars spent in locally owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement and promote community development.

5. Job and wages. Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

6. Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship fuels America's economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

7. Public benefits and costs. Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

8. Environmental sustainability. Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers, which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

9. Competition. A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

10. Product diversity. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

So there you have it - 10 reasons why you should keep your shopping dollars in the Alexandria area. You may think there's one reason not to - saving a few bucks for yourself. But you should at least give local stores a shot first. You may be surprised at what you'll find - competitive pricing, a commitment to customer service and a connection to the community that can't be matched.