Buying local aids our region

From a retail perspective, the Altoona area has remained generally fortunate.

Despite the major store closings that many places have been experiencing, Blair County has escaped much of the exodus resulting from the growth of online and television-based shopping.

Brick-and-mortar stores continue to be vitally important to any community’s economic health, and it’s important for people here to remember that on this day known as Black Friday — the biggest shopping day of the year — as well as throughout the rest of the Christmas shopping season.

How committed area people are to supporting local merchants over the next four weeks could determine whether some current shopping opportunities will be available at this time next year.

People here should keep in mind that, although it might be difficult to ward off the temptation to travel to, for example, Pittsburgh area malls and shopping centers, that most of those gifts probably are available here and, at least in some instances, at lower prices than what some of the out-of-town stores are offering.

Meanwhile, there’s not the wasted gasoline and time traveling to and from those distant locales.

And consider this: If a return or exchange becomes necessary, it’s easier to accomplish that task locally than having to make a gasoline- and time-wasting trip to some distant destination.

Likewise, don’t forget the personalized service that stores here try to provide.

A Nov. 2 Mirror article, “Retailers head into holidays,” provided a glimpse of what some stores would be doing to invite shoppers during this biggest spending season of the year. But in addition to those retailers, others that have publicized holiday bargains in recent days, especially in yesterday’s Mirror — the biggest edition of the year — have shown how hard they’re also trying to attract customers.

What’s important is that local shoppers pay attention to those advertisements and values.

This year has brought new concerns for some aspects of the national retail landscape, with some stores cutting goals and warning of weakening sales. Locally, much concern existed for a while over the sale of the Logan Valley Mall, but the mall, despite being sold, has remained a bright star in area retailing.

Consider: When you buy locally, you get to judge quality and size in-person, reducing prospects for disappointment. And, while it might be tempting to make a major TV home-shopping purchase, it’s important to know that some of those items actually come from major retailers, not necessarily directly from manufacturers.

You can sometimes see them in person at your local store before you buy them. However, a local store’s sales figures don’t reflect purchases of those items made via the TV shopping networks.

If there’s an online or TV item that you can’t pass up, no one’s stopping you from making the purchase. But don’t forget to brag to out-of-town family members and friends about the great holiday values here and encourage them to come and see for themselves what’s available.

Remember that every dollar spent here bolsters local stores, helps to provide employment opportunities, and enables those stores to donate to area causes and to help sponsor events.

It’s good business to spend your holiday dollars locally — where they’ll do the most good.