Chamber champions local stores during holiday season

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Chamber champions local stores during holiday seasonA scene from last year’s Santa’s Art Shop illustrates the fun and gifts available at this early herald of the holidays. Local and visiting crafters and artisans will sell their hand-made and holiday-themed wares. (Watch next week’s edition for more information.) Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2. Admission is $1 per person, and parking is free. — Photo by Laura Austin

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As community members focus on their family- and food-centric gatherings for Thanksgiving, the unofficial kick-off to the holiday shopping season lingers just over the horizon.

While some of the local chain stores are offering “Black Friday” discounts to residents willing to get up early that day (or stay up late the day before), Jan Bennett, interim executive director of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce, urged community members to also remember “Small Business Saturday.”

American Express began staging a “Shop Small” movement several years ago to encourage shoppers to help extend the “Black Friday” boost with merchants of comparatively small footprints.

“I think the important thing to the chamber is keeping your shopping dollars local, which has a huge benefit to our community,” said Bennett.

“One of the advantages is the turnaround of the dollars spent in town,” she said. Economic experts suggest that those dollars are spent about five more times with other service providers and retailers.

“Then you have the sales tax accrued here, which helps provide revenue to our schools, our infrastructure and our quality of life.”

Bennett noted that it is also the local shopkeepers — larger and small — that fund community-based charitable organizations and service clubs in times of need.

“You don’t go to Walmart or Costco in Lancaster and ask for money — you ask our local retailers. They are the ones who are asked time and time and again for help, and they always give back — almost to a fault.”

Bennett acknowledged that there are some things that cannot be purchased in town. “But I think about the options we have for things like furniture — where we have a huge selection at several different places. So if there is an item you can’t find here, I would just encourage you to buy that elsewhere, but resist the temptation to spend a day buying everything outside of our community.”

(For more information about “Shop Small,” visit americanexpress.com/shopsmall).

Story First Published: 2018-11-21