New Year’s is the time for resolutions. It’s when we look back at what went wrong during the past year in order to resolve to correct those areas that need improvement and set us on a path of greater success in the new year. As the New Year begins we typically make the same : lose weight, become more patient, spend more time with our families. These are all important and great resolutions, but I would like to suggest another…”shop local”.

Why “shop local”? One reason is to preserve the charm and what makes Amarillo unique. Sure, we can save a few bucks shopping online, but at the same time, we are all silently allowing the Amazons of the world to erode the character of our towns. Small town shops do more than strengthen a community. They help support a vibrant local economy. And for many people, they provide the entry level jobs where young people can develop the necessary skills they will need for more important jobs as they grow older. Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally.

Shopping local takes on many forms, and every dollar spent locally has a profound effect on our community. Economists estimate that for every dollar spent in a locally- owned business, 48 cents stay in the community. It doesn’t take a PhD in economics to determine what percentage of your dollar spent on Amazon returns to Amarillo.

And remember, shopping at Wal-Mart is NOT buying local. Studies have found that big-box retailers, particularly Wal-Mart, depress wages and reduce benefits for retail employees. Moreover, revenue is not deposited in the local towns, but enriches the overall corporate entity.

And it’s not just shopping local, it’s “thinking local first”. It’s a mindset to look to our local neighbors first when making any purchase decision. It’s not just choosing a lo- cal boutique but choosing local restaurants, a local bakery, a local mechanic, a local plumber. And our local business neighbors reward you for thinking local first with personalized customer service and a willingness to go the extra mile.