Our opinion: Keep it local this holiday and all year

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We would like to offer a tip of the hat to schools, recreation departments and merchants throughout Bennington County for staging truly fantastic Halloween celebrations, yet again.

Halloween takes on a different meaning in a rural area. There aren't too many large neighborhoods in concentrated clusters like we often see on TV or in the movies. Most of the homes around here are too far apart, on streets that are too dark with no sidewalks, to make it practical or safe for even the hardiest of trick-or-treaters. So we rely instead on schools to host the growing phenomenon known as trunk-or-treat; on recreation departments and civic organizations to hold special parades and parties; and on businesses in downtowns and village centers that do offer a concentrated cluster for trick-or-treaters. From Bennington to Arlington to Manchester, southern Vermont towns did not disappoint in offering fun and safe Halloween events that brought neighbors together and created a greater sense of community spirit (if you'll pardon the pun).

Now that Halloween is behind us, we hope these same local residents will remember the generosity of our local retailers as the holiday shopping season begins.

Every year we hear more and more about how the competition from big box stores and online retailers is crippling our already struggling downtown merchants. And every year, we reiterate all the reasons to support our local retailers as they strive to close out the year in the black. Because our local businesses are so important to the vitality of our towns, the list from the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics bears repeating:

- More of your money will be kept in your local economy. For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community, compared to $43 from a national chain.

- You embrace what makes your community unique.

- You create local jobs - not just at the stores, but also for teachers, firefighters, police officers, and many other essential professions.

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- You help the environment, conserving energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging.

- You nurture community. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains.

- You conserve your tax dollars. Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money available to beautify the community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong - in your community.

- You create more choice. Local businesses carry a wid-er array of unique products because they buy for their own individual markets.

- You take advantage of their expertise. Locally owned businesses have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you, and they're passionate about what they do.

- You invest in entrepreneurship.

- You make your community a destination that will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests.

The bottom line is, if we want these business to continue supporting our communities in the myriad ways they do, then we need to be there to support them. So please, shop local this holiday season and throughout the year.


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