Consumers have many choices of places to shop on this Black Friday and throughout the Christmas shopping season, the time frame in which retailers nationwide experience 20 to 40 percent of yearly sales.
Charleston Town Center downtown, the Shoppes at Trace Fork, Southridge Centre, Nitro Marketplace, the Huntington Mall and many more modern shopping centers provide an abundance of convenient locations with competitive prices for
residents to search for gifts and goods for family
and friends and themselves.
While taking advantage of this multitude of shopping opportunities, don't forget about the other choices — the small, locally owned businesses that dot the area, often located in old sections of towns and many times far from the gargantuan parking lots, crowds and expressways.
In many cases, the locally owned businesses were in place long before the modern complexes were built. In their original day, those businesses were located in the heart of the modern shopping areas of the time.
That the small old businesses survive, despite changing habits of shoppers, and tax credits and/or government paid for infrastructure improvements that seem to favor newer chain-based businesses, is a testament to the choice and services they provide.
While some economists debate whether it makes much difference to the economy overall if individuals buy from locally owned stores or national chains, it makes a difference to the owners of the local businesses whose livelihood depends on that commerce.
Many of the local businesses have been steady — if small — employers, taxpayers, contributors and advisers to the community for generations.
Certainly, the smaller, locally owned businesses provide a charm and sense of community not found in many sterile, nationally replicated shopping
Choice and competition are what makes the market-driven economy work. Remembering to patronize the local establishments that give the area special character will help keep those choices interesting for a long time to come, promoting a healthier community in the long run.