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Q. My wife and I argue over what provides the most value and convenience for our money during the holiday season — shopping online or shopping with local businesses. Her questions always comes back to does it really matter where we spend our money if it all stimulates the economy? How can I convince her of the benefits of shopping at our local businesses?

A. Nov. 25 will offer the perfect opportunity to do business with local businesses in our area — on a day that has been dubbed Small Business Saturday. And while it’s fair to say that online shopping comes with benefits, choosing to shop locally has merits that outweigh the convenience of shopping from home.

Where you choose to spend your money is a lot like casting a vote. When you choose to shop locally, you’re not only supporting small businesses, you’re essentially voting to improve the community where you live.

When a local business provides products and services, the benefits ripple out into the community. Local businesses create jobs right where you live. And when these same businesses purchase supplies from other businesses, this create still more jobs. In turn, employees of small businesses can take their paychecks and spend them on products and services in our community, which also helps to create jobs.

When a business sells a product or service locally, they collect tax on them. What’s more, a business’s employees pay a variety of taxes where they live and work. These same taxes help support essential services, such as educational systems and police and fire departments. All these benefits are lost when you spend your money online.

Shopping locally has some immediate benefits, too. In many cases, small businesses offer prices at or below those available to you online. You can also avoid shipping costs when you choose to shop locally, and you won’t have to worry about your gifts arriving on time. If it turns out that you purchased a gift in the wrong color or model, exchanging the item is much easier when you are working with a local small business.

You can’t underestimate the value of personal touch, either. Nothing makes a good purchase better than excellent customer service. When you encounter a person who works for a small business who takes pride in assisting you with your purchase, it makes you feel good.

No matter what way you look at it, shopping locally is good for our community. So why not stimulate our economy this holiday season? Get out and support local businesses on Small Business Saturday, knowing that doing so is making our area a better place to live.

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Bonnie Spain is the executive director of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills, a United Way member agency. To contact her, email

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