In the era of Cyber Monday and near-instantaneous shipping, sometimes people can forget the impact they can have by shopping closer to home.
Marisa Sharrah, president and CEO of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, said shopping locally in any community leaves a “positive and immediate impact.”
Shopping locally, Sharrah noted, contributes to the local economy. While online sales have been increasing over the last decade, she said, every time you make a decision to purchase something from out of state, it’s also a decision not to keep those dollars within the community.
“So of course, we all make those decisions to shop online and sometimes it’s out of necessity, and sometimes it’s out of convenience,” Sharrah said, “but there’s an opportunity, especially around the holidays, to make an intentional decision to say, ‘I’m going to take some of these dollars that I would have spent online and I’m going to go and I’m going to shop locally, so that I can keep these dollars in our community and keep our local economy thriving.’”
Neal Fried, an economist with the Alaska Department of Labor, said spending money locally means generating employment and possibly profit. Retail, he said, is a big sector of the economy.
“For example in Fairbanks retail employs about 4,700 people,” Fried said. “So it’s a pretty big sector.”
Employment last year peaked in November and December, according to Fried.
“Those are the two biggest months for retail in Fairbanks,” he said.
The benefits of shopping local, Fried said, are fairly obvious.
“Shopping locally, it generates employment,” he said. “It generates economic activity whereas ecommerce in Alaska, we don’t have the warehouses that other places do. We haven’t had the offset. So in that sense it’s probably a net benefit when people are buying locally in Alaska.”
As a membership organization, according to Sharrah, a majority of the chamber’s members are community-based. She said one thing the chamber of commerce likes to do is get to know their members, ask what they’re doing for the holiday season and how to promote their business and products.
Local businesses might spread the word of their shopping opportunities via social media, word of mouth or advertisements. If people are intentional, listening to things going on around them and looking at local options, according to Sharrah, often they can find gifts locally.
There’s a lot of great local options to fulfill gift giving, things that we do on an annual basis she said.
Sharrah mentioned local stores such as Lily & Mae and Venue, which feature gift shops with exclusively Alaskan artisans, as well as foods for those who appreciate a holiday treat.
Or if people want to give an experience as a gift rather than a material item, they might look somewhere like Arctic Sun Virtual Reality, which offers gift cards. Many local restaurants also offer gift certificates, as well as swimming pools, the movie theater, hot springs and more.
Along with the local stores, Sharrah also cited the many holiday bazaars taking place around Fairbanks as an option for people looking to shop local this gift-giving season.
Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her on twitter at: twitter.com/FDNMlocal