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Try shopping local for back-to-school supplies

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Posted on August 14, 2014 |
By Christy Lynn



It’s the middle of August and that time of year when you wake up in the morning and there’s a chill in the air that reminds you autumn is on the way.

It’s also that time of year when you start looking at your kids’ tattered, stained clothes and worn-out shoes and start thinking about what they may need to start another school year.

This year, when heading out on the annual back-to-school shopping spree, consider staying closer to home and sourcing clothes and academic supplies from local retailers rather than making the trek to big-box stores or outlet centers far from home.

Money spent locally comes back

Shopping locally works to stimulate the local economy, as those store owners are twice as likely to shop at other local businesses than at large corporate stores. With this money being reinvested in the community, it builds the tax base, which then goes to support schools, roads, public safety and municipal programs.

“Studies have found that $100 spent at a local bookstore produced $45 worth of local economic activity,” says Kate Selby of the Bristol Downtown Partnership, a non-profit organization working to support businesses of Bristol. “$100 spent at a chain store brought back only $13. Online shopping? … almost zero local reinvestment.”

Selby and other local business leaders encourage shoppers to consider the impact in slightly larger terms, rather than focus only on the sticker price of single items.

Aside from the obvious savings of not having to drive as far and therefore saving money on gas and time, there are the residual savings that come with your dollars going to the businesses that support the local fund-raisers and programs that you otherwise may have needed to fund individually anyway.

Andy Mayer, president of the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, echoes Selby’s call.

“There are a number of reasons for people to shop locally,” he says. “First of all, you are supporting your neighbors and friends, just as you would like them to do for you. When you spend money here you’re putting money in the pocket of someone who might need your service or product in the future.”

A lesson in spending

Keeping your spending money local could provide a great lesson for your student heading back to school this fall, as well.

It provides parents an opportunity to explain some of the complexities of how money is transferred and circulated on a level that can make sense for them because the loop is relatively small. Paying in cash also helps to make this lesson more tangible for students, as they can more easily imagine a bill being passed around than a credit card being swiped at one location and then another and another.

Teenage shoppers make for a captive audience if the bargain is that they get to shop for a new outfit, new pair of shoes, new electronics, or school supplies, even when you’re talking about math or local economics. In a consumption-rich society where debt is a part of many people’s lives, the opportunity is ripe to encourage your teen to think about where their money is going and the impacts of each dollar spent.

Options abound

“Many people don’t shop local because they think they can’t buy the things they need in a local store,” writes small business consultant Alyssa Gregory, founder of Small Business Bonfire. “That’s simply not true. Small business owners are more willing to carry and stock special items their customers need in order to be more accommodating.”

In Addison County, clothing retailers like Skihaus, Wild Mountain Thyme, Mendy’s, Linda’s Apparel, Everywhere Boutique, Forth ‘N’ Goal and Green Mountain Shoe and Apparel stock items that are practical while also being unique and special. Resale clothing shops like Sweet Charity, Round Robin, Neat Repeats, Junebug, and Enchanted Closet also offer an affordable and fun day of shopping as you rifle through the racks looking for treasures that only you could find.

The Vermont Book Shop, Recycled Reading, Kimball Office Supplies, Main Street Stationary or any of the local drug stores can help set your family up with the books and locker supplies that will keep your mind active and your organization tight throughout the school year.

For bags and backpacks, jewelry and accessories that help add a proud smile to a student’s day, drop in to Rainbow Room, EmeraldRose, Clementine, Edgewater or Cacklin’ Hens.

You may be surprised at how many local supplies you can find right under your nose in Addison County. So, with the knowledge that every dollar spent shopping locally this back-to-school season means an investment in your local community, open your eyes to the variety of options within our county lines and head down Main Street.

Editor’s note: Christy Lynn is associate publisher of the Addison Independent.

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