As we enter the holiday season, “Black Friday” looms on the horizon. Most retail businesses do a major part of their business from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and while this may not be the busiest season for paddle sports stores, still, a lot of gifts are purchased at this time for family and friends who paddle. No matter when you are shopping or for what reason, I ask you to please consider buying from local stores.
I no longer work in retail and am not affiliated with any particular store, but I know how hard it is for most local, independent businesses to survive in today’s economy. If we as customers do not support local businesses by making our purchases from them, these stores will soon disappear. I can name several paddling and outdoor shops that I have seen close over the past several years. Sure we can shop over the internet, but how much “personal” help and service have you ever gotten over the internet? Do you know of any internet businesses that hold free seminars, offer classes, or sponsor symposiums? Can you test paddle the boats and paddles that you order on the web? How much extra do you have to pay for overnight shipping if you lost or broke a piece of important equipment and need it replaced right away? Delivery to your door is convenient, but think about what a hassle it is if you have to return or exchange an item, even if the cost of return shipping is covered. I realize that distance can be a limiting factor in some cases since paddle sports shops are not nearly as ubiquitous as grocery stores, and you may need to occasionally order items from internet or mail order businesses. I also realize that you can save a few bucks, at times, by ordering from a website, but consider what you may be losing if everyone chooses to go that route. If you are looking for something that your local store does not have in stock, see if they will order it for you.
Besides keeping your local store in business, spending money at local businesses keeps significantly more money circulating in your local economy. For every dollar that you spend at a locally-owned Milwaukee area store, over 68 cents stays in the community. This is significantly more than when you spend your money at a large national chain store or place an order from outside the area. If you can’t find a store in your town, at least try buying from a retailer in your same state. With unemployment running in double digits, we need to be doing whatever we can to help people retain jobs, especially in our local communities. Check out more reasons to buy local at the Our Milwaukee – Local Business Alliance website.