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Shopping Local, A Family Affair

Last Saturday's Small Business Saturday was one of many opportunities we have to shop local, keep our community strong, and teach our kids some valuable lessons all at once.

Thanks to the folks at American Express, last Saturday was annual Small Business Saturday. Am Ex’s site for the “holiday” describes it as a day sandwiched “Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday...dedicated to supporting small businesses nationwide.” They say last year, over one hundred million people came together to shop small in their communities on Small Business Saturday.

Locally, Saturday’s shopping day kicked off at noon in North Park with the city of San Diego issuing a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Jerry Sanders recognizing the contributions of small businesses. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy," he said according to San Diego’s NBC News. "Every dollar spent in San Diego is more likely to re-circulate in the community helping to create jobs and grow the local economy.”

I love this idea, because even though I know there could be ulterior motives for a giant credit corporation to host this event, I firmly believe buying local is a key to ensuring our community is a strong one. Now that I'm a parent I look at the strength of the place where I'm raising my kids as more essential than ever. With my children entering schools, riding bikes through the streets, and getting goods, services, and lessons about the greater business world around them right here at home, a thriving community is key.

Not only does buying local keep our family’s community strong, it can also teach our kids vital lessons. By getting to know the farmers and craftspeople who grow your food, you build understanding, trust and a connection to your neighbors & your environment. The weather, the seasons and the science of growing food offer great lessons in nature and agriculture. Visiting local farms with your friends and your family brings that education and appreciation to the next generation. Also, when you visit the same store for the same kinds of items time and again your kids can see can seasonal goods together in their proper context--as opposed to the mega-stores where merchandise from food to auto parts is all thrown together anonymously.

When you buy local, you also form lasting relationships with the shopkeepers who work there. This gives your kids opportunity to experience the basic ways caring, neighbors treat each other—something they don’t see too often these days. These are people who come to know you and your family when they see them come in the store, or out in the community. Perhaps if we lived in a smaller town all this would go without saying but in a city (fine as ours is), I find it especially valuable.

Another bonus is, especially if they’re a bit older, your children can start to understand the lessons of the strength of buying locally. You can explain to them that shopping this way cuts down on the waste of travel and extra packaging, while keeping money re-circulating through their own neighborhoods. Then they can begin to consider how these kinds of decisions, which will be theirs someday to make, affect those they’ve come to know and trust. If you buy your next bike from the people at the local shop who’ve helped you with everything from flat tires to supporting your soccer team, isn’t nice to know that this may make it easier for them to buy their kids’ their gifts this holiday too?

So if you’re like me and you tend to shy away from the big post-Thanksgiving shopping-fests, you probably still have quite a bit on your list. Consider shopping locally for the Holidays this season...and bring your kids along, because everyone wins when buying local is a family affair.

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