Shop local - be sustainable!

As a local vendor, this article may seem a little self-serving, but it really is important to shop local whenever possible. The Napa Valley and the City of Napa, specifically, have a wide range of businesses that serve our local needs and it is more important than ever to “Shop Local First”.

Not only are sales tax revenues important to the local economy, but also many local businesses are going through very difficult times in this economy. It is good citizenship to purchase things from your neighbor first – but that’s not enough. Shopping local does a lot of things that provide direct value to us and our community. We need to take all of this into account as we calculate value. Besides sales tax paying for things like police, fire, parks etc., shopping local keeps jobs in town. From a green point if view, less travel is good for the environment and less travel is safer as well. More important for me, shopping local is fun and convenient. I really enjoy knowing the people I buy things from and part of the experience is spending a few minutes catching up.

Chamber members enjoy the added benefit of utilizing the Member2Member Savings Program with hundreds of business offering special discounts only to Chamber members. Now after all of these value elements are taken into account, I like to use the phrase “if all things are equal.”  It’s not the consumer’s obligation to patronize a business just because it is in town, but if you value your time, fuel and enjoy the familiarity, then local business has the edge. In order to survive in these tough times, local businesses have to differentiate themselves and many have come up with innovative ways to serve our needs. It might be worth your time to visit some of the local businesses that have fallen off your radar screen. You will be surprised.

My business, like many others, donates to a variety of local organizations and causes. You see the names of these businesses everywhere, sponsoring events or using their staffs as volunteers. This is a very expensive but satisfying way of giving back to the community that we owe our livelihood to. I do not believe that donating locally should buy me one piece of business I don’t deserve, but “when all things are equal” these businesses deserve the benefit of the doubt. Certainly there are some things that are more available outside Napa or at a regional mall, but these are the exception not the rule. For instance, automobile sales are a huge source of local tax revenue. Many believe it is necessary to leave the Valley to buy a vehicle, but if your are looking for a new Nissan, Volvo, Jeep, Honda, Ford, Lincoln, KIA, Chrysler Chevrolet, Toyota, Cadillac, Buick, GMC (to name a few) you wouldn’t even have to leave Soscol Avenue. Downtown, in particular is going through a metamorphosis and the future looks incredibly bright.

In the meantime, the businesses that have staked a claim in our future downtown need your patronage. We need to get away from thinking that we need to shop locally just because it is the right thing to do. It is really the smart thing to do because it provides real value, a great experience with many options and it happens to improve our community.

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