Christmas wish for 2019: Shop locally

I have a Christmas wish for the next year.

Buying a Christmas gift for my parents is not easy for a few reasons:

They don’t consume much. They don’t want much. What they want, they get on their own.

What we suggest to get them, they say they don’t need.

And they say not to fuss about them at Christmas.

That only means that we fuss.

It’s that fuss that links back to my Christmas wish.

I have just one sibling and our spouses to sort through this annual fuss of what to buy our folks.

We arrived at a solid idea for our parents – a lift chair for the elderly. (Don’t tell them they’re old, please.)

As the four of us debated the differences in the stores for that gift, it finally came down to a modern shopping dilemma:

The chair was $600 at a store in my parents’ city of Buffalo. But it was $400 at an online store. The store name kind of sounds like Dilemmazon.

I made a flip comment to my brother:

Is anyone from the online store going to buy a pizza from your restaurant or contribute to the tax dollars needed for snow plowing?

My Christmas wish?

Shop locally.

Here in Youngstown, we’re about to face a tough economic challenge with the possible/likely/eventual closing of the GM Lordstown facility.

The 1,500 or so jobs means untold millions in lost revenues and spending just from that workforce. There will be more losses as evidenced this week by the closing of Lordstown supplier Source Providers and the loss of nearly 200 or so jobs there. A few years back, they employed 600.

There will be more. Those losses mean an inevitable impact on our local dollars.

Therefore, we must get better at spinning what dollars we have into a local circle and resist furthering our economic retraction.

I’m not perfect at this.

I’d like to say I buy online only when it’s not available here. That happens, sure – like our hockey gear, for example. But in opening that buying habit, I know there are certain purchases around our home that could have been bought here. I saved $20, I think, with the purchase of shoes for my son. And when I see the shoes, I know it.

Golf pals will talk about clubs they bought – online.

With Lordstown and my comment to my brother on my mind this week, two things arrived at our office that furthered the idea for this Christmas wish.

Lordstown launched its Drive It Home campaign recently as a way to show GM and CEO Mary Barra about our passion for the facility.

The campaign this week included a cards and letters project from local students. The campaign is being managed by a public relations company – out of Columbus.

It’s a great firm. It has local ties. But it is not a local PR firm. Could it have been?

Also this week, a great box of cookies and chocolates arrived from a local nonprofit agency that helps thousands around the area. It was a great treat – and our staff was thrilled. It was my first time tasting treats from Cheryl’s Cookies, which hails from down near Columbus.

I know in the past we’ve received treats before from local chocolatiers. And One Hot Cookie bakes treats to die for. A few other locals have packaged fruits even.

Cheryl’s was nice. But it’s not from here.

This is not a guilt trip for either group. I don’t know all that led up to using the Columbus-based groups. Maybe it was free? But I don’t think so.

And how can I point fingers? I saved $20 online for shoes, but at what cost locally? And that chair purchase up in Buffalo? It is not coming from Buffalo.

This is a growing habit we have, that I have. It’s made easier by technology.

Our losses from the impact of Lordstown will have a trickle effect that will be painful and long. Even if the plant is saved, there will be losses. The big fix of new employment also will be long.

But in the short term, we can mitigate the loss in a few ways.

Among other needs that our community has, I hope this one – that we keep our dollars as local as possible – is something we measure and pursue. Like the Drive it Home idea, local spending also needs a campaign to remind us.

That’s my Christmas wish.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.