Hissy Fit - December 2022 - Why Shop Local? It’s a Matter of Life and Death

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


December 2022 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

You hear it all the time: “Shop local!” But why should you? It’s so much easier to sit in bed all comfy and cozy with the world of retail at your fingertips. You never have to worry about running into anyone you know, getting out of your pajamas, or taking time to drive to a store and actually go in. You can shop ’til you drop all by yourself without ever touching a product or talking to a human.

While online shopping seems to be the ticket for ease and convenience, shoppers need to think twice about dissing the local stores in their community. There are detrimental, long-term consequences to the massive growing, online shopping mentality.

Online shoppers claim they save time by not going to a store. Perhaps if you have it down pat, and simply re-order the same things each time, it could be time saving. However, I believe it works out to be about the same and possibly even longer in many cases. How many times have you gone onto the Internet, only to realize an hour or so later you have no clue why you logged on in the first place? Surfing the Net is a colossal time suck, and most people get caught in its overwhelming web. In addition, it is highly likely after ordering online, you will still need to stop by a real store for miscellaneous needs, and the post office to return the jeans that don’t fit because trying clothes on before you buy them is just so five-years-ago and requires an absurd amount of effort. Aren’t we all dreaming of an effort-free Christmas, or life, for that matter—perhaps this is why most people are still in their pjs.

We already live in a society that is becoming more and more sedentary, heavy and unhealthy. Shopping online exacerbates this epidemic. Even on days when I walk 45 minutes for exercise, I still log 4-to-5,000 additional steps of random mobility throughout the day. That extra movement is important for calorie burning, flexibility, muscle retention and much more. If you are not an exerciser, and now you also don’t want to get out of your car, house, or bed to shop, you have just pushed sedentary to a new dangerous level. You heard it here, going out to shop is a way to get moving, seriously.

Loneliness is on the rise as one of the fastest growing problems facing Americans. It’s hard to imagine with all the instant forms of communication, people of all ages are lonelier than ever. Should you decide to do the majority of your shopping online, you increase your risk for loneliness and isolation. It may sound heavenly for a second, but think about it; it’s not a path any healthy person wants to explore. I enjoy running into people I know at the grocery store, clerks educating me on products, fashion boutiques helping me decide what looks good (and more importantly, what looks bad), talking to the pharmacist about meds I may need and having the occasional discussion of how to do/cook/enjoy something with others. It doesn’t matter who you are, isolation leads to loneliness, and loneliness leads to depression and other psychological and physical health issues.

If you don’t shop at the local stores, who will make up your part? It’s easy to think your online habits aren’t hurting anyone, but they are, mainly because you and millions of others are doing it. And, collectively, it takes trillions of dollars out of local retail economies. According to “Repricer Express”, in 2019, Amazon made $4,722 in sales each second. $283,000 each minute and more than $17 million each hour. Now, the online retailer that accounts for 40% of all Internet retails sales touts $1.29 billion in sales per day. Can you even fathom 1.29 billion dollars every 24-hours? ALL of that money used to be spent in local communities. The only way for small businesses—or big brick and mortar businesses— to compete and stay open is for us—the shoppers—to make a steadfast commitment to shop local! But, why does it matter?

Frankly, it’s a matter of life or death if you want your town to survive. Small business is the backbone of America and the largest employer in our nation. If small business goes away, jobs go away. I repeat: Local retail and many service jobs will become extinct—a thing of the past. It’s not just the business owners, either. Think about the supply chain—truckers, vendors, merchandisers, realtors, property managers, utility companies—even less wifi will be needed. Imagine a town where store after store keeps closing, and person after person keeps losing their job. What will fill those spaces? Where are people going to work? Where are you going to be able to shop if you don’t have a day or a week to wait on a mail order?

Open your eyes! Online shopping is destroying our communities and changing our lives…forever! Businesses can’t stay open on the off chance you need them for an emergency, like your child suddenly needing supplies for a project due tomorrow. This kind of convenience is going to be a thing of the past if we don’t wake up. Imagine retail centers with a vast amount of empty buildings. Many malls that have closed over the years have become rundown drug palaces riddled with crime. All of this can be fixed by shifting your mindset, priorities and spending habits back to your community and “shopping local” as much as you can.

I despise injustice, and here’s one that irks me to no end: People shop online, but when it’s time to ask for donations, they count on local businesses. Really? Why not ask Amazon or Facebook to give to your child’s little league program, or donate to the silent auction for your favorite local charity? Maybe Zuckerberg can show up and work the concession stand at the high school football game, or make and donate the centerpieces for the tables at the ball.

Let’s weigh in: Don’t support local retailers by shopping with them, but rely on them to support you and your organization when you need a donation because they are the only option you have. Please tell me you agree this is wrong in every way!

I beg you to shop local for the longevity of our superb small businesses and community as a whole. There’s nothing like getting out there and taking in all the sights and sounds of the season. Feel the sweater before you buy, smell the coffee and pastries wafting through the air, hear the bell ringers and carolers, see your breath as you happily scurry towards a warm, festively decorated store. Enjoy every second of it, and know you are taking a stand for your local economy.

Don’t you just love all the lights, the feeling of the season in the air and seeing the little ones lined up to see Santa Claus? Are you taking your little one to see Santa this year? If so, you better start shopping locally because retail centers have to pay for all their wondrous decorations, and yes, even Santa doesn’t show up for free. As shopping centers strive to make your experience merry and bright, they need you to direct your Christmas spending their way. 

Not convinced? Still planning on doing most of your shopping online this year? Well, then perhaps it’s time to start a new holiday tradition in your family! Have your children or grandchildren sit beside you as you cyber shop, and show them Santa on the screen… and then they can ho-ho-hopelessly look forward to doing the same with their children one day, too.