This Christmas season, I have bought several gifts at local stores. They're not all locally owned stores, mind you, but they're stores that exist in my general neighborhood and employ people from my area, so the money benefits my community, at least indirectly. And you know what? I've decided that I like doing that.
I've bought several things at the Sears that recently opened in the Merchants' Walk area of Cobb County. This was once a KMart, but the store was closed in September, gutted, and renovated as a contemporary community Sears. It reminds me of the local Sears in Rome when I was a child; compact, but filled with an amazing assortment of items in all product areas. I've spent more at this store in two months than I've spent in the past two years at Sears, and I intend to spend more there; I like having non-mall stores that are convenient for neighborhood shopping, and I want to reward those who build stores away from the centralized mall-hubs.
There's a Target in that area that also gets some of my business, simply because I like the big-store-in-a-suburban-area feel; it has an underground parking deck with an escalator that takes you directly into the store, but it has a smaller, more personal feel of an old department store. Good design, good employees, good atmosphere...
I've been buying more things at the local Ace Hardware, because it has a homey atmosphere that I enjoy. The people are helpful, and I'm surprised at what I can find there. Most recently, I bought a very nice pocket knife there as a gift for a friend who had lamented the fact that he didn't have a small knife. I didn't know where to begin looking for such a knife, then it occurred to me that I had seen an assortment of them at Ace one time; I stopped by during an afternoon walk, and there they were!
I picked up a couple of gifts at a local florist as well; they have some very attractive home decor items, and the quality seems much higher than what you find in the trendy mass-market home boutiques.
I'll never be able to buy everything I want locally--my tastes are too eclectic for that. But I've decided that I'm going to spend more of my dollars locally next year, even if I have to pay a little bit more for the things I want.