We are in the midst of a full blown recession. Many retailers and industries have announced layoffs and planned closings. Unemployment is 6.5 percent nationally and growing. We will have a new president in January, with hopes of immediate change. The entire nation is confident he can turn the economy around and get us quickly on the road to recovery.
With all of these national issues, we need to think long and hard about our holiday shopping. We need to give consideration to the Juniata River Valley companies and retailers who need our business and our support. The local businesses employ our friends and neighbors. The local businesses pay local taxes. The local businesses support our local activities with their donations all year long.
Think of who donates to all the athletic teams throughout the area. Local businesses support our school activities. Think about the corporate sponsors of the festivals and fairs we enjoy all year long. Can you imagine how we would function without our sports teams, our Community Days, our 4-H fairs, our Festival of Ice, the Chip Drop, the RiverFEST, the Kid Connection, the Arts Festival, the Juniata County Fair, the Bean Soup, the Country Memory Days, the Dutch Days? The list could go on and on.
They are all sponsored by the local businesses we often take for granted. Your personal return for doing business locally is unbelievable.
The other side of the issue is the time and gasoline cost of traveling to the out-of-town destinations to shop and eat. The shipping charges on mail order purchases often exceed any real savings. Problems with fit and quality are resolved with a short drive after the holidays if we buy locally, and we are dealing with friendly local faces.
There is long list of national retailers that are planning to close their doors after Christmas or close large number of their stores in unprofitable locations. Before you make a purchase in those stores, ask if they will be around in January to honor exchanges. Be careful when purchasing gift certificates from some of the national chains; if they go out of business you may find they have no legal responsibility toward the gift certificates if they declare bankruptcy. Play it safe. Shop close to home.
This is the year to make good choices and remember our neighbors. We need the local businesses to supply jobs for our friends and families. We need local businesses to be around to support our local activities. We need to think of our fellow Mifflin County and Juniata County citizens. Let's keep it at home.
Jim Tunall is the executive director of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.