Residents walk Seward Street during Gallery Walk on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Residents walk Seward Street during Gallery Walk on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Opinion: Give the gift of commerce

Shop local this holiday season.

  • Friday, December 13, 2019 7:00am
  • Opinion

The holiday season is upon us. It’s the time for renewing our faith, helping the less fortunate, family reunions and gift-giving.

Each of us celebrate the holidays in our own way, depending on our heritage, religious affiliation, how we were brought up and the traditions passed on by our parents and grandparents. Along the way, we may have started some of our own traditions to pass on to our children.

One of the best things about the holiday season is spending quality time with family and friends.

Some families donate to favorite charities rather than purchase gifts. But for those who do buy presents, one might consider that charity begins at home.

In a small community like Juneau, our retail opportunities may be limited but nevertheless provide unique benefits and gift-giving ideas.

Compared to ordering from a catalog or national website, it isn’t always the most convenient option to shop at a local independent business.

But, to a large extent, a town is defined by the businesses it supports. If we patronize local stores that stock distinctive, one-of-a-kind merchandise, we help Juneau stand out from the crowd.

There are other far-reaching advantages to supporting our Juneau stores. By supporting local businesses, you are in turn supporting your local economy. Local businesses are more likely to utilize other local businesses such as banks, service providers and suppliers. Significantly more money stays in a community when purchases are made in town — rather than with out-of-town businesses.

In addition to supporting our economy, there are other important benefits. Local businesses invest in the community and donate more money to school activities and nonprofits.

Local businesses rely on local sales to meet payroll, pay property taxes (and collect sales taxes), and make charitable contributions — all which help make our community stronger, help pay for municipal services and moderate taxes and the cost of living.

Some examples of long-running local businesses that have stayed open through the good times as well as tough times include:

There are also other local options: movie tickets, gift certificates for local spas and salons, as well as passes at your local health club, Eaglecrest Ski Area, Mount Roberts Tram, Treadwell Ice Arena, and Dimond Park Aquatic Center.

Another way to support our community is to consider celebrating the holidays at a local restaurant before taking in a play at Perseverance Theatre.

Hometown businesses are crucial to a community’s economic health. Over time, smaller communities like ours have seen a transition in their economies. Substantial businesses like banks, department stores, full-service grocery stores, and newspapers used to be locally owned.

But over the years, larger outside corporations have bought them up.

This is a natural part of change. But change also brings opportunities.

As a rule, small business owners are smart, entrepreneurial, influential people who can help their community solve problems and drive change. Not only can they keep their communities strong, they can help shape their communities’ futures.

According to economists, dollars spent with local merchants create a multiplier in the economy, meaning for every dollar spent locally, $2 to $3.5 dollars recirculate in our economy compared to a dollar spent at non-local businesses.

Thriving local businesses create thriving communities — building a more resilient and diversified economy. When they succeed, there are more jobs. Neighborhoods and schools get better. Quality of life improves. That attracts more people to move into our community.

This holiday season consider spreading your cheer and helping your community by shopping locally.


• Win Gruening retired as the senior vice president in charge of business banking for Key Bank in 2012. He was born and raised in Juneau and is active in community affairs as a 30-plus year member of Juneau Downtown Rotary Club and has been involved in various local and statewide organizations. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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