Sun Editorial: Don’t forget local merchants this holiday season

Spend these last shopping days visiting a few of the smaller, local retailers.

By Alan Bauer

All of you — OK, the both of you — who have completely wrapped up your holiday shopping can stop reading now. Since you’re buying no more gifts, this isn’t for you.

For the rest of you still scurrying about looking for the perfect present or a last-minute gift for someone who, well, you forgot about earlier in the shopping process, we have a request: Check out your local merchants. They have a lot to offer — a lot that can’t be found in national stores or online.

By now you know all about the economic and civic benefits of shopping locally. You are supporting men and women who likely live in your community and who support other local businesses and local nonprofits. You are keeping the retail base of your town strong. You are helping to maintain property values. When you shop locally, you are, indeed, giving back to your community, so you should feel pretty good about yourself.

All of that is true, but so is this: You’ll find some awfully cool stuff at the local shops. Unique, one-of-a-kind stuff. The stuff you can’t find online or in big, national retail outlets.

Sure, you can roll with the flow of everybody else, play it safe and get the usual, generic gift. Or, you can be that person who lights up a recipient’s eyes when they open something truly spectacular, something that they know you put time, thought and effort into getting, something that shows you care.

On top of the selection of goods you’ll find, we’ll bet (it’s pretty much legal now in New Jersey to bet on everything) you’ll get better customer service at the local shops — more guidance, more input, more attention. The men and women who work long hours at their stores have a true interest in serving their customers. They want — and need — you to come back.

You still have some time to polish off your holiday shopping lists. Spend these last days visiting a few of the local retailers in your town. You won’t regret it.