Among all of the “shop local”, “small business Saturday”, “shop small” and other directive  advertisements over the last few weeks, something was missing..  That something was the “why” behind those directions.  Why should people choose the local option?  What are the benefits to the community for shopping local.  Why should people care?
When we were asked these questions, we came up with a “top ten” list that breaks down the “why” behind shopping local:
1.Shopping Local supports our local economy- For every $100 spent in a locally owned store, $45 stays within the local economy and circulates through other local businesses creating jobs and positive economic development. For big boxes, it’s about $15 per every $100 spent, while out-of-town shopping and on-line shopping from out-of-town sources retain virtually nothing for our local economy.
2. Keep Emporia (and your gifts) UNIQUE! Small local businesses have access to unique local products that make great gifts for that special someone in your life. Supporting our local businesses helps diversify our local economy by encouraging more entrepreneurs and more unique businesses.
3. Shopping local supports local charities. Local businesses support local organizations and charities that you depend on through their donations. Without your support, local businesses can’t help all the local philanthropic agencies that come calling. With your support, local businesses give back and help local causes, promote holiday entertainment and all of the special things that make Emporia a unique and caring community.
4. Shopping local creates jobs. Small businesses are the nation’s largest employer, and according to the US Census Bureau, they create over ninety percent of all net new jobs. By supporting local small businesses, you create and retain jobs in our local area.
5. Supporting local business establishes our community leaders. What do most of our local elected officials have in common? They are small business owners or work as management within entrepreneurial style businesses. As Emporia seeks to deal with the challenges of tomorrow, it is important to generate creative new ways to solve local problems. Small business owners, by their very nature, are creative problem solvers.
6. Supporting local businesses creates the community that we want to see. When you spend money at a local business, you increase building occupancy rates, help establish new businesses and create vibrant local retail, service, restaurant and entertainment options. Local businesses reinvest the money you spend with them to help create a better Emporia.
7. Local businesses support other local businesses. When you spend your money with local retailers, they spend  money with a local advertiser, their local accountant, a local bank, the local office supply store, local product suppliers and much more.
8. Shopping local is green. Less money spent on fuel and packaging means a lower carbon footprint. Less time in the car means more time with family, friends and enjoying life.  And, you can’t exactly call yourself environmentally conscious if you are spending every weekend in the car burning fuel on the way to some metro area.
9. Shopping local supports local schools, infrastructure and services. The property and sales taxes generated through local businesses pay our local teachers, fire fighters, police and support local roads and other infrastructure. When you shop local, you are literally helping to build our community.
10.Shop local because we have many great local businesses that want to help you have a wonderful Christmas season. There is nothing quite like running into your friends and family as you shop your home town, and buying things from people that know and care about you. This holiday season, do more than just shop Emporia, invite your out of town friends and family to shop our community, and let’s have a wonderful Christmas season here in Emporia!
Now, as Paul Harvey would say, comes “the rest of the story.”  Most of us know we should shop local.  We know that we should spend our money with local decision makers that benefit our community, promote local products and show values that build a better community.  We should also know that people watch community leaders and our local businesses.  Consumers want to know that people “walk their talk”.  So, we can encourage people to join with us and shop local, but we cannot expect people to do things we are not willing to do ourselves.  To put it bluntly, if I promote shopping local and then I’m seen shopping out of town this holiday season, it undoes all of my efforts to promote shopping local. 
I will shop locally, because I like what our local businesses have to offer.  I will shop locally, because I believe that supporting our local businesses starts with the individual choice to support our local community businesses.  I’ve actually invited friends down to shop locally, and I’m looking forward to a great holiday season with local friends supporting local businesses to enhance the local community!