In our opinion: Shop locally for better gifts, stronger communities

  • Tuesday, December 17, 2019 3:02pm
  • Opinion

Christmas is a week away, but there’s still plenty of time for residents to find the perfect gifts for everyone on their lists. Even teenagers.

Small businesses across Whidbey Island offer an assortment of unique gifts at a wide range of prices. A reporter in search of one-of-a-kind presents in local shops found gems and crystals, vintage dolls that look like historical figures, felt puppets, owl decorations and candy canes that taste like mac ’n cheese.

Those who like giving the gift of food will find plenty of locally made products, from spice mixes to smoked fish to loganberry pie.

The ultimate unique gift is a work of art and, luckily, the island is home to talented artists who sell original works at galleries, stores and studios. There are even artists who do work on commission, such as a South Whidbey woman who draws caricatures of people’s pets.

You won’t find that on Amazon.

Shopping at small, independent businesses is also a way to support the community and keep downtown areas buzzing with activity. Money spent locally supports local jobs and public services.

Studies show that money spent at local, small businesses ends up circulating and supporting the economy far more than spending at big-box stores. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance reports that, for every $100 spent at an independent retailer, $45 is returned to the community in support of other businesses, compared to $14 from chain stores. For online retail, the return to the local community is just around $1.

The nation runs on small business. About 99.9 percent of U.S. businesses are classified as small. They employ nearly half of the total workforce nationwide and in Washington state.

Buying items produced locally is better for the environment. And getting out and meeting people is how communities are made.

Shopping Whidbey is also enjoyable.

Consider making a day of it. Head to downtown Oak Harbor or Langley, perhaps, and peruse the shops and the holiday decorations. Stop at a coffee shop or a restaurant for a bite to eat. Then head to Coupeville and check out the stores along historic Front Street. Relax with a glass of wine or a beer.

Then, end the day with dinner at one of the many outstanding restaurants.

More in Opinion

Sound Off: Recalling the Founders’ views of a free press

America’s Founders regarded a free press as so vital to the new… Continue reading

Sound Off: However you rock a face mask, just be sure you wear one

I’ve heard lots of dismal news about the pandemic, the public health… Continue reading

Editorial: No, we don’t need permission to report on meetings

Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes doesn’t seem to understand a really basic function… Continue reading

Newspaper returns to broadsheet format, moves to new home

No, you aren’t imagining things. Yes, the Whidbey News-Times-South Whidbey Record you’re… Continue reading

Editorial: It’s a difficult conversation, but one we must have

The City of Langley took an important step Monday. The council entered… Continue reading

Sound Off: Addressing white silence on Whidbey Island

I have had the immense privilege of being born and raised on… Continue reading

Sound Off: Be strong, resilient and listen to each other

I have been giving considerable thought to the circumstances we, as a… Continue reading

Editorial: Answers to protests not simple, but there is hope

Editorial writers at newspapers across the nation are grasping for words when… Continue reading

Editorial: COVID responses should continue as we reopen

Island County residents have taken the response to the pandemic seriously. That… Continue reading

Rockin’ a Hard Place: Overcoming an eerie feeling in an empty tourist town

Eerie is an onomatopoeia – a word that sounds like what it… Continue reading

Editorial: Governor, allow the show to go on at Blue Fox Drive-in

Somehow people are choosing sides when it comes to COVID-19. And it’s… Continue reading

Sound Off: Coronavirus, work must somehow coexist

By now it is apparent that, barring a miracle, a cure for… Continue reading