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Boost The Local Economy

POSTED December 1, 2009 4:08 p.m.

Black Friday has come and gone but it is still a little too early to tell if it can be classified as a success.

Did people shop? Did they get out there in the wee hours of the morning, standing in line while their Thanksgiving turkey was still digesting, waiting to see what kind of great deal they could get? Does it really help the bottom line?

Retailers will tell you that this is the time of the year that can make or break them. But hinging everything on one day is unrealistic. Sure, Black Friday sales are a great way to get the ball rolling, but stores need people in them on a consistent basis over the next few weeks, leading up to the Christmas holiday, to put a profitable end on the year.

It’s good to see the local shops doing what they can to encourage shoppers, everything from adding the festive holiday decorations to offering special deals and longer hours. Keeping our shoppers local — away from the malls and the larger cities — is key to helping that bottom line get into the black.

It may take a little more effort on the buyer’s part, but seeking out that unique something from a locally owned shop can be a lot more meaningful to the recipient than a cookie cutter gift from a big box store. And maybe that’s what we need to get back to; gifts from the heart that have meaning, not gifts given just for the sake of wrapping something up to put under the tree or send off in the mail.

Taking time, which we all know is hard to find, to carefully hand pick a gift, based on what we know and love about the person receiving it, is often as much a part of the gift as the item itself. Time is precious and scarce at this time of year as we all fall in to the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the season.

So if you have that holiday gift list ready, get as many items as you can right here in your local community. That helps your local business owners — who often are also your neighbors — and benefits the community by keeping your tax dollars here instead of sending them to neighboring cities such as Modesto, Tracy and the like. Your tax dollars help out by funding a variety of city services, so the more spent here the better.

‘Tis also the season for festivals, with each of our communities — Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon — serving up some holiday fun. These are perfect opportunities to continue that ‘shop at home’ idea, since each festival offers a showcase for vendors in addition to other activities.

Oakdale will host its Old Fashioned Christmas in the downtown area on Friday evening, Dec. 4 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., with an appearance by Santa Claus for pictures and visits with the kids and a host of local businesses extending their hours and deals so you can find the perfect gift. Wagon rides and a car show are also planned.

Riverbank and Escalon both host their holiday celebrations on Saturday, Dec. 5. Riverbank’s annual Christmas Parade in the downtown area is in the morning, complete with an appearance by Santa and the day also includes an Arts and Crafts fair at the city’s Community Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For Escalon, the Christmas on Main Street celebration starts with vendor booths opening at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The festivities will also include a holiday light parade on Main Street, a visit from Santa and fire pits for making s’mores, in addition to businesses being open late and holiday musical entertainment being featured.

Oakdale also kicked off the holiday shopping season with its annual Cowboy Christmas event, offered this past Saturday, Nov. 28. Along with bringing Cowboy Santa to town on horseback and having many vendors offer handmade and unique items at the Community Center, it was also a big ‘sidewalk sale’ day for downtown businesses. The Chamber of Commerce has built this year’s holiday season around the theme: Buy Oakdale — Because it Matters.

We couldn’t agree more but urge everyone to remember that slogan throughout the year, not just at the holidays. And whatever town you live in, substitute that name in the theme. Buy Riverbank, Buy Escalon, Buy Oakdale … because in these tough economic times, supporting your community helps us all.

Buy local. It does matter.

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