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Choose local to build a community’s future

It’s customary this time of year for newspapers everywhere to write glowing editorials about the virtue of shopping local. After all, throughout the year, local businesses support the ability of local journalists to deliver local news, and we hope you will support them.

Local news is important. We are not perfect, but we live and work in our communities. We care about the future because it’s our shared future. We grow as the community grows, and we need each other.

I happen to be a natural born shopper. I grew up shopping extensively in my hometown of Webster City, and in mom’s native Fort Dodge. Come with me, for a minute, down memory lane, call it a visit with the “Ghost of Christmas Past.”

Take a ride on the Santa train at Crossroads Mall before it was enclosed. Shop all afternoon, and then have dinner at Woolworth’s Harvest House restaurant. The malts and club sandwiches were fabulous, as I recall.

Venture downtown Fort Dodge and hitch a ride on the elevator at the Boston Store. Chat with the helpful lady who operated the elevator’s double doors of glass and brass. Watch as the clerk retrieves change sent over the vacuum tube to the register. My mom could tell you what was on each floor of the Boston Store. I just remember that it cost a dime to open a bathroom stall… unless one happened to be small enough to crawl under. The floors were very clean.

Come on over to Webster City for a full night of shopping. Browse the shoes at Halvorson’s and Westervelt’s. Check out the bargains at Smart and Thrifty. Whatever you do, don’t miss the candy counter at Spurgeon’s! And, before the evening is done, have a steak dinner and a cocktail at Dermand’s Cafe.

Happy times of Christmas Past, those were indeed for me, and I hope for many of us who call this portion of north central Iowa home. But what about Christmas Present and Christmas future? Well, I think they kind of depend upon each other — and all of us.

Shopping locally this Christmas Present can very well help us build a brighter Christmas Future for our communities. Prospective new businesses will always review sales tax figures from a given community as an important part of their consideration to bring a new business into a community. If prospective businesses see that local residents prefer to drive an hour to shop, or spend their dollars online, our communities become less attractive to those prospects.

To build local shopping, support what you have. And I believe we have wonderful choices in our local communities. Grab a friend and take a day and really discover what we have here. I would start a list, but I don’t want to leave anyone out.

For me, shopping local extends not just to locally owned businesses, but also to the national chains that have chosen to do business in our communities. I am thankful that they are here and part of our community. And it doesn’t stop with just one Saturday in November. All year long, choose to save the shipping, save the gas, and develop an eye for the businesses that are here in our communities.

I love shopping. I believe that “retail therapy” should be covered by any decent health insurance plan. Join me this Christmas season, and all year round, by shopping local first.

We can make wonderful memories of time spent shopping in our own hometowns, memories that we can treasure in Christmas Yet to Come.

Lori Berglund is a freelance writer from Hamilton County.

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