Where exactly do shoppers' dollars go?Once shoppers choose to purchase an item and hand their payment over to a retailer, many don't think to stop and wonder exactly what those dollars do.The money we spend goes far beyond the retailer's cash register and has a much broader impact than we might think.Shopping locally has become a growing issue in so many communities in this region, and for good reason. The 100-mile diet is a prime example – purchasing produce, meat and other products within 100 miles of one's hometown serves many purposes. It educates consumers on agriculture, promotes awareness of the many quality products available close to home, brings peace of mind to people who know where their food came from and decreases the environmental footprint by using less gas and energy due to lower shipping costs and distances. A growing number of consumers have taken to heart the ideal of supporting our local producers by purchasing locally grown food for their families. We want to take things a step further and promote the buy-local ideal during Christmas too, the busiest retail season of the year. This holiday season, The Minto Express is promoting local shopping through a series of editorials outlining the importance of keeping our dollars in the community. This week, we're looking at some of the ways shopping locally benefits Minto. Belinda Wick-Graham, business and economic manager for the Town of Minto, perhaps summed it up best: If every household in Minto spent just $100 in Christmas shopping locally, that would result in $1 million in local economic impact.But, the advantages don't end there.• It helps support local producers. Local stores are more likely to carry local produce. Keep that in mind when planning your grocery shopping or Christmas dinner. Agriculture plays a big role in our local economy and by supporting our farmers and producers, we'll help ensure this important sector remains strong.• Shopping locally helps retain Minto's uniqueness and identity. Each community is like a fingerprint – no two are exactly alike. Businesses are part of what makes up local character and help make it distinct. When we choose to do business in a local store instead of a big-city retailer, we can truly appreciate being somewhere unique. As we support these businesses, we are helping to ensure our local flavour stays vibrant.• It's not just about profit for retailers. The dollars we spend in their stores must go many different directions before they land in retailers' pockets. They must pay their taxes, heat and hydro bills, and employee wages before they pay themselves. Many businesspeople in Minto also use these dollars to donate to good causes, for sponsorships and to help support community initiatives.• Shopping locally helps sustain and create jobs and better wages. As businesses grow, they hire more staff. Entrepreneurs will start more businesses, hiring more people and giving locals more shopping opportunities. Other local businesses such as hair salons – though they aren't considered retail – are likely to be negatively affected if fewer people are doing business in their home community.• Dollars spent locally help support local services and infrastructure. A strong economy means more money for good roads, new projects, fundraising initiatives and financial support for schools and hospitals.• It strengthens community spirit. By doing business face-to-face with fellow Minto citizens, friends and neighbours, we forge a sense of partnership and unity in our community. Merchants know the public is going to do what they can to support them and conversely, shoppers know their local merchants will do what they can to provide the goods and services they require with a familiar face and top-notch customer service.- S.B.
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