This holiday season, the best gift might be a basket of local cheese, crackers and wine. Or it might be clothing celebrating all that is good in Madison. You might find a book by a favorite author, an ornament of the State Capitol or a handmade item that can't be replicated. In any case, holiday shopping is in full swing, and local businesses are hoping to lure shoppers away from chain stores, and into the doors of small businesses.
It's part of a national campaign called "Shift your Shopping." Organizers point to research that shows that every dollar spent locally multiplies its impact. Local businesses give back to the community at a rate almost three times that of larger chain stores. The money multiplies in job creation, support of other area businesses and charitable contributions. And, buying local reduces the environmental impact on a community. When you aren't requiring items to be shipped in, you reduce pollution, demand on the roadways, and other forms of waste.
Dane Buy Local represents more than 600 area businesses, including gift shops, florists, restaurants and specialty items. To help local stores get the word out, the organization's web site is featuring a variety of promotions offered throughout the season. Shoppers can take a look, find specials specific to their shopping days, and then connect with local retailers. Many of the participants are located in two of the more prominent shopping areas downtown. Monroe Street offers more than a mile of shops and restaurants, and State Street boasts and eclectic assortment of businesses stretching from the UW Campus to the Capitol. More local shops are along Willy Street, and scattered throughout the city. Madison offers an unusually large selection of local businesses, and has a proud history of buying local.
Shopping local helps the economy, but it also offers shoppers a unique selection of items for gift giving. Area shops can help assemble gift baskets, full of unique Wisconsin delicacies, or they can point you to locally made products, offering creative gift giving options.
November 25 is celebrated as "Small Business Saturday" for holiday shopping, but "Shift Your Shopping" encourages buyers to begin to use local businesses, even now. They hope to create habits that benefit the community for years to come.