With each click of a mouse this shopping season, you are missing a golden opportunity to help your community grow, as well as to discover the hidden gems among wonderful local businesses.

A solid community is built upon a solid foundation of economic opportunity, excellent schools and lots of locally owned businesses. Shopping online with out-of-state firms not only hurts Oklahoma, but your local community as well. Your shopping decisions can undermine the economic viability of your friends and neighbors.

Looking for that unique gift idea — one you might never find clicking through endless websites? Or how about advice on how something might run on sizing? We’ll take a person over a digital chat any day.

You do, however, have a choice. Besides providing you with the opportunity to stimulate your local economy, shopping locally is a great way to get out with friends, meet new people and know you’re helping make your community grow.

Most jobs in the United States are anchored in small businesses. Your purchases could make a difference about whether some of these jobs remain after the holidays.

And look at the economics of your shopping. When you shop locally, a portion of those sales tax dollars remain in your community to be reinvested, pay taxes to support improvements and contribute to local schools. This compounding effect is accomplished by the owner paying employees, purchasing gas for vehicles or supplies from another local business, as well as paying a share of taxes into the community pot.

Think of this as one big circle of life playing out right here in your community.

How much is reinvested in your community when you click the mouse? Zero, nada, zilch. Ask yourself whether your purchase is an investment in your community or simply a spend — a transaction without any local impact. The former is a boost to your local economy; the latter is a hollow purchase with no positive local impact.

This season, we’d encourage you to shop locally. Visit your favorite local businesses or walk into a store that has always caught your eye as you drive past each day. Inside, you’ll find your neighbors — behind the counter and browsing the aisles. Meet people. Stop and grab lunch or coffee. Make an adventure of exploring your community.

And know that many times, with each purchase, you’ll find items you would never encounter while shopping on your phone or computer, and these purchases will mean so much more to your community.

This year make a difference in your community — shop locally.

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