Shop locally first during the holidays

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With Christmas lights up and area holiday parades starting this weekend, it’s definitely starting to look and even feel, with the recent frost, like Christmas here in Lancaster County.
With Black Thursday/Friday behind us and the holiday shopping season in full swing, we’d like to remind shoppers to Think Lancaster First.
The Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce’s shop local initiative is also in full swing with discounts galore in its new Think Lancaster First coupon book.
The coupon books, which cost $10 each, feature more than 80 businesses, offering a total savings of more than $1,000. As you do your holiday shopping, you can use the coupon book to shop local and save money at the same time. The coupon books would also make great stocking stuffers or gifts for co-workers, which would keep the recipients shopping locally into the new year.
The books are available through several county schools, including Kershaw, McDonald and North elementary schools and Indian Land and South middle schools, which get to keep 50 percent of the book’s cost, and from the chamber office in Lancaster.
Chamber Vice President Melissa Walker-Price said the chamber’s goal with the coupon book is “to drive more business traffic locally, to provide a vehicle for fundraising for education and to give citizens an easy way to Think Lancaster First.”  
Shopping locally for the holidays is important to the county’s economy. When you shop here, you help ensure that local retailers not only stay in business, but can expand as well – which creates a positive ripple effect in the economy that benefits us all through higher sales tax revenues and expanded payrolls. We’re seeing that already as the economy picks up, but it’s still important for us to keep our dollars here rather than spending them in another county or state.
Just think what a boost it would be to our local economy if every dollar Lancaster County residents spend on gifts (an average of $770, according to a November Gallup poll) this year stayed right here in the county. Even if you consider the unemployment rate (10.8 percent in October) and figure that $770 average on a per-household basis, that still rings up to about $21.8 million.
We know it may not be possible to do all your shopping here. We realize there are some popular stores that Lancaster County does not have. We also realize the Internet is a convenient way to shop for everything, including some things not available locally.
But we encourage you to Think Lancaster First this Christmas season. Lancaster County has big-chain department stores, discount stores and hundreds of smaller businesses, selling everything from, literally, soup to nuts.
It’s also more practical to shop here than to drive anywhere out of the county to go shopping. And there are not nearly the traffic jams here that you’ll encounter around the malls this time of year.
We think you could easily do almost all your holiday shopping at local stores. We hope every Lancaster County resident will try to do most of his or her shopping here this Christmas.
We wish you luck as you shop – and we hope you’ll find many great gifts right here in Lancaster County.