We had good intentions. This past Saturday, we had planned on spending at least part of the day around town, shopping at local small businesses both downtown and elsewhere in our community.
When the day arrived, it was cold, windy, and rainy. And there was the small matter of a certain rivalry football game on the television. Which turned out to be the most fun I’ve had watching a University of Kentucky football game all season.
(I think Lynn Bowden just scored yet another touchdown.)
So I had a good Saturday at home. Yet I felt guilty about skipping out on our local shopping on Saturday. Because it was part of Small Business Saturday.
This is a national shopping holiday, squeezed in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Yes, it seems they have a name for everything these days.
I’m not really all that high on shopping “holidays.” We Americans are so driven by the need to consume, we scarcely need the incentive to spend more money on consumer goods.
But this one is different. It’s a national effort backed by American Express, with the sole purpose of encouraging folks to shop with local, smaller, “brick-and-mortar” establishments.
This is a worthy objective anywhere, but it is especially important in a small town such as Winchester.
We’ve talked before in this column about the benefits of purchasing goods and services from locally-owned establishments.
When you spend money in local businesses, more of your dollars stay in the community. Think of it as an investment in our future — your own personal economic stimulus package.
Additionally, by supporting our unique shops, you help to make Winchester unique.
Think of all the distinctive stores and restaurants we have. You don’t find those exact same places in any other town.
Many of the products sold locally are made close to home — in some cases, right there in the shop. The lines are shorter. The attention you get is often better. In many cases, the proprietor will be the person serving you. They know their products intimately and can help you with any unique situation.
So if you’re going to spend money on gifts or items for yourself, you might as well do your spending where it does the most good: in our own community.
And that’s why I felt that tinge of guilt last Saturday. Clearly, I could have sacrificed some personal comfort for the good of my community.
But then I realized something — obvious, in hindsight — that hadn’t occurred to me until that day. Winchester shopkeepers need our support every day of the year.
I salute those of you who braved the elements last Saturday and spent some of your hard-earned cash with local merchants. I hope you will continue to do so in the coming weeks, and especially in the coming months, after the holiday shopping craze is over.
Because local merchants need us in those dark winter months, and in the spring and summer months as well. They need us to reward their efforts every day of the year.
My wife and I plan to spend some time during the three remaining Saturdays between now and Christmas patronizing local merchants. But we also plan to continue to do so throughout the coming year.
We hope to see you around town.
Pete Koutoulas is an IT professional working in Lexington. He and his wife have resided in Winchester since 2015. Pete can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @PeteKoutoulas.