Editorial – Make Christmas season merry for  hometown merchants

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The occasion of last week’s Holiday Open House in Downtown Smithfield and the upcoming Mistletoe Market remind us again of the importance of shopping at home.

Despite the many reasons we hear from consumers for shopping online or going to neighboring cities, we remain an unapologetic advocate of our Smithfield, Isle of Wight and Surry retailers, especially those independently owned businesses that are the backbone of the local economy.

There are many good reasons to shop at home – both during the holidays and year-round.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Hometown merchants take a personal interest in their shoppers, because they know most of

them. They see them at church, at sporting events, at social functions and all around town. They

treat their customers like friends, not just another body with a wallet.

Supporting hometown merchants is good for our community. Their taxes help pay for police and fire protection, street improvements and the like. When you buy locally, you also provide jobs for your friends and neighbors.

Plus, local merchants give back generously to the community. They are faithful in their support of school and charitable fundraisers, Chamber of Commerce activities, youth sports, the arts and just about any other good project. We ought to pay them back with our shopping loyalty.

Being a small-town merchant is not an easy row to hoe these days. Besides the out-of-town competition, there is e-commerce behemoth Amazon and other websites capturing a huge chunk of consumer spending. We get the convenience, but the internet experience is impersonal and, frankly, just not as much fun as walking into a local shop.

As Holiday Open House again proved last week, shopping with hometown merchants,  especially this time of year, is quite the social experience. If you don’t already know the shop owner, you probably will before you leave. And you’re likely to bump into a friend or neighbor while you’re out and about.

Small Business Saturday later this month presents another opportunity to get out and shop local. Strategically timed the day after the madness of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is a less stressful way to check off the gifts on this year’s list. 

If our hometown merchants were to dry up tomorrow, it would immeasurably lower the quality of

life in this community. Let’s all do our part to help them prosper.