The easiest way to give back this season, and help the Durango area through this difficult year, is to shop local.
As our research shows, 62% of patrons to our shops and retail stores are out-of-towners. While visitation has stayed steady in the county and those visitors have patronized local retailers, it has still been a struggle for our Durango shopping community.
If you shop local this holiday season, you will be helping local business owners through this tumultuous time for the economy. Additionally, sales tax from your purchases will be funneled back into our local economy and help pay for city expenses and needed infrastructure projects.
Why does a tourism director care about locals shopping local? The idyllic retail offerings along Main Avenue are one of the main contributors to Durango’s tourism appeal. While most visitors may come to ride the train, enjoy outdoor recreation or visit Mesa Verde, our historic downtown shopping corridor is one of the key second-tier attractions for this group. Think of the businesses that line Main Avenue: antique shop, art gallery, boutique, gift store, coffee shop, book store, outdoor gear shop, repeat ... These are the types of shops visitors love to explore in their off-time. In order to maintain the cultural appeal of our downtown, supporting these small mom-and-pop shops is crucial.
Luckily, the community is banding together this year to support this sector of the local economy. Organizations such as Visit Durango, the Downtown and North Main Business Improvement District, Local First, the Durango Chamber of Commerce and the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance are all supporting programs to promote local shopping.
Noel Night, a long-standing event organized by Local First, will continue in a virtual format to encourage social distancing and greater flexibility to shop local this holiday season. This year, your favorite local businesses will offer coupons, or “vouchers,” inside the annual Noel Night newspaper insert in The Durango Herald. These vouchers can be used at your convenience, so you can do your holiday shopping easily and safely. Local First will also launch an online, virtual marketplace to promote local businesses during and after the holidays.
And don’t forget to pick up Local First’s Be Local Coupon Book, on sale at the Welcome Center later this month. This makes a great gift for the holidays and supports independent, locally-owned businesses in La Plata County.
BID and Durango Chamber of Commerce are also teaming up with the Durango Holiday Rewards Program. From Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, shoppers who keep their receipts for La Plata County stores will see some return on investment. Shoppers who spend $50 will receive a $5 gift card to a local store; those who spend $100 will get $25 of rewards; and anyone who spends $300 or more will get a $100 gift card while supplies last. Not only is that an amazing deal for locals, but the program hopes to bring $100,000 back into the local economy.
So instead of gifting the generic products from Amazon.com or another major retailer, sending money outside our community, and brining in way too much cardboard, shop local. When shopping for your local friends and family, there is no excuse not to buy locally. And even those you will be shipping to, just set aside a few extra bucks for the post office.
If you are trying to stay home this holiday season, except for the essentials, there are ways to shop local that don’t involve in-person shopping. Many of our local businesses now offer online shopping options on their websites or the Local First and BID sites. Many have curbside pickup and some offer pretty great deals on shipping as well.
Be thankful for the amazing shopping options in our local community. Enjoy your time patronizing our unique locally-owned businesses and feel good about where you are spending your money. After all, we can all use and extra bit of feel-good this year.
For more information, check out these websites:
Holiday Shopping Guide – Durango.org Blog.Durango Holiday Rewards Program & Online Retail – DowntownDurango.org.Noel Night – Local-First.org/Noel-Night.Rachel Brown is executive director of Visit Durango. She can be reached at 261-1052 or email@example.com.