Bypass all the hype and shop locally

Maybe you’ve already seen some ads ahead of national and online retailers ramping up their summer merchandising. While it might be compelling to save 50 cents on some cheap item you buy online, we would ask you to think long and hard about where, why, and how you choose to spend your hard-earned dollars when you’re making a purchase.

Are you looking for something specific? Is an online purchase the only way you can get it? Do local small businesses carry similar products? Can you walk into a local store – even if it’s a national chain – and purchase the same thing?

The fact is that when you shop in a local store you are supporting our local economy. The money you spend locally goes back into our community in the form of wages to local employees, profits for local owners, rent for local landlords, and more. Those funds then get distributed even further in our community when employees send their kids to dance class, when owners support local youth sports program, and when building owners hire landscapers. These are just examples of some of the ways those local expenditures are returned to our community. Even when you make a purchase from a chain store locally, some of that money comes back into our community in these ways. The local economic margin is higher when you buy from a locally owned store or restaurant since none of those profits get funneled up into a major corporation. One study in 2019 showed that local retailers return 52 percent of their revenue back into the local economy, compared to just 14 percent for national chain retailers. Remember, if you simply buy online from a national retailer, the local economic return is zero. Money that circulates through our local economy benefits every individual who may have had any role in that transaction.

There are other benefits from shopping locally too. You may get to know the owners or employees personally, and once they understand your taste, they can assist you better. Locally owned shops can often order merchandise you may be seeking. Sometimes even the merchandise you’re buying at a locally owned shop has been locally made. For the consumer, these are all extraordinary benefits that you may not ordinarily consider. You can get outstanding customer service when a store owner knows you and may be able to directly order the items you’re seeking. For example: local bookstores can order just about any reading material you may want, and local florists go out of their way to source just the right flowers for your arrangement.

Fortunately for the consumer, there are options when it comes to buying from local retailers. You can certainly walk right into their shop. You can often call ahead to make your purchase experience faster. And for the merchants participating, you can shop online and still buy locally through ShopLocalCHQ.com – a local marketplace that will aggregate your purchases from multiple sellers into a single shopping cart for your convenience. Through ShopLocalCHQ.com you can find a variety of items from clothing to home goods.

The past couple of years have been challenging for local small businesses. Each purchase you make from a small locally owned store or restaurant not only benefits our local economy, but it maintains our very important sense of place. It’s the small businesses in a community that create our quality of life and an environment that visitors choose to patronize.


Vendors are wanted now for a new community-based collaborative showcasing local artisans in downtown Jamestown. CHQ PLUS is a collaboration among The Resource Center, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, and The Gebbie Foundation. This downtown Jamestown space will offer local businesspeople and artisans an opportunity to sell their wares without the costly overhead of your own space and without relying just on seasonal craft fairs and art shows. For The Resource Center, it’s a prime opportunity to expand its workforce development program for clients, while offering professional management in a high-traffic setting. Interested small businesses can learn more by emailing andrea.shierling@resourcecenter.org.


The Chamber of Commerce is continuing its series of Tuesday Talks based on marketing avenues for small businesses. Coming up in July we will focus on how to get your business noticed through the use of local media as well as some other pointers. This session may be valuable for all types of businesses, whether you’re in a retail or a service setting.

We hope you will join us online at 8:30am, Tuesday, July 19 for this informative panel discussion. Our panelists will include Andrew Hill from Media One Radio Group and Meredith Patton from the OBSERVER in Dunkirk. Register now through our online calendar at www.chautauquachamber.org. This event is sponsored by LaBella Associates, OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, and the Small Business Development Center at JCC.

Tuesday Talks provide a convenient online forum for learning in a casual, panel discussion format. They are held via Zoom so attendees from all over the county can log on, learn something helpful, and then get back to their busy day. We hope you can join us.


The annual Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament is scheduled for August 18 at Peek’n Peak, featuring early bird pricing when golfers register by July 15. This special offer gets each golfer a $10 discount. The Chamber Golf Tournament is a great opportunity to entertain clients, reward employees, network with fellow golfers, and enjoy a round of golf on a beautiful pro-level course. The Chamber’s 2022 Golf Tournament is sponsored by A Automotive, AES/Empire Solar, Blackstone NEY Ultrasonics, Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Chautauqua Patrons Insurance Company, Community Bank, Dahlstrom Roll Form, Dave Warren Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, DFT Communications, Express Employment Professionals, Jamestown Container Companies, Jamestown Kitchen & Bath, Jamestown Mattress Company, Koester Associates, LaBella Associates, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Lawley Insurance, OBSERVER, The Post-Journal, and Shults Auto Group. Register online now through the Chamber’s web calendar event at www.chautauquachamber.org.


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