It wasn’t all that long ago that members of the Loudoun Chamber gathered in a Dulles hotel meeting room to hear a presentation from one of the pioneers working to figure out what traffic will fill the nascent “information superhighway.”
At that point, Steve Case’s company, Aol, was still mailing out millions of CDs in hopes that residents would run phone lines to their computers and dial in to the internet. During that session, he told the county’s business leaders that someday soon folks would do their shopping with the press of a keyboard button. A startup company in Seattle was betting on that, too. Today, online shopping and services like Amazon are omnipresent.
It is at this time of year when online shopping records are set. But the convenience of mouse-to-mailbox purchases comes at a cost closer to home.
The vibrancy of Main Street brick-and-mortar retailers is a barometer of economic health in any community. When hometown stores can’t keep their doors open, more is lost than just another shopping venue. Also gone are jobs and tax revenues needed to fund the schools and other vital public services.
Promotions like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday can help area businesses, but it should not only be on those two days that they warrant attention. Rather, they should be at the top of the list whenever it comes time to search for that special gift or gizmo.
There may be those among us who would prefer to avoid driving to a store, standing in lines or dealing with cashiers, but far worse is not having the opportunity to do so. That is why shopping local is important. That sweater bought at a local dress shop is not just a purchase, it is an investment in your neighborhood.