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Column: The importance of shopping locally

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, the holiday shopping season has officially kicked it into high gear.

As you start to check off your holiday checklist (or your loved one's wish list), do your local community a favor and shop at home when possible.

Obviously, neither Perham nor New York Mills has a West Acres, like Fargo, or a Mall of America, like the Twin Cities, and sometimes you can only find that specific item on a website or in a big-box store.

For small communities, though, the local, small-business shopping options are pretty impressive.

Around the area you can find books, homemade gifts, winemaking tools (as someone who appreciates wine, I think this particular option is pretty exciting, and may be frequenting Make Me Wine sometime in the next few weeks for holiday gifts), antiques, apparel, home décor, jewelry, antiques, and so much more to meet your holiday shopping needs.

Besides, instead of driving somewhere else to do your shopping, you save time from being on the road, and you save money on gas.

According to the Small Business Saturday website, for every $100 spent on local business, $68 returns to the community through taxes, local jobs and other factors.

Given the current economic state of affairs, now is a very important time for small businesses, which are often the heart of local communities. To keep our communities thriving we must keep our small businesses thriving.

Of course, in the end, shopping at home is much easier said than done. I've been guilty of ordering things online plenty of times the past few years. Sometimes the convenience of not having to leave your couch, or special deals with free shipping are just too nice to pass up.

With homemade gifts that you can buy around here, though, you not only support your friends and neighbors, but you also give a gift that has been made with care and effort. And that goes a long way.

So, be proud of your community, and be proud of the small businesses and everything that they have to offer this Christmas season. Shop locally.