Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

October 13, 2013

Shop here in Kokomo

Lots of folks begin their Christmas shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving. But last week, we noticed online promotions — and even a newscaster — point out many retailers with holiday sales promotions this weekend.

Columbus Day weekend.

Really.

It’s unusually early, but it seems only appropriate to offer a suggestion to you early birds: Shop Kokomo first.

It’s critical local people support the merchants who help this community thrive throughout the year. Shop in the businesses that pay dues to the local chamber of commerce and civic organizations, buy sponsorships for local athletic teams and tickets to the chicken noodle dinner at church.

Holiday spending this year already is forecast to rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s slightly above the 3.5 percent gain retailers enjoyed a year ago.

This is a critical time of year for the folks who make their living in the retail industry. How their stores do in the next three months could well make or break the whole year.

Experts are predicting shoppers this year will be looking even harder for bargains, trying to stretch their available dollars as far as they can.

One way to make sure your dollars have the biggest impact is to keep them right here in your community.

It’s tempting, we know, to pack up the family and drive to Carmel or Indianapolis, and these days, it’s also tempting to just stay in your living room and fire up your computer, shopping for bargains on the Internet.

It’s important to remember, though, those Internet retailers won’t be paying taxes in Howard County. That store at the Fashion Mall won’t be providing a job to your neighbor down the street.

Local businesses do that. They pay the taxes that keep the lights on in our schools and pave our streets. And they write the paychecks that buy groceries and make house payments in households throughout the county.

Local merchants are our friends and neighbors. They serve beside us on local boards and commissions. They volunteer as Scoutmasters and Little League coaches. They buy ads in the school yearbook, and they make contributions to local charities.

They can continue to do these things only if they have customers putting money into their cash registers.

Especially now, at a time when finances everywhere are tight, supporting those local merchants simply makes sense.

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