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Every year, the Chestnut Hill Local reports dozens of stories on new businesses and restaurants that open in our neighborhood. It’s one of the primary responsibilities of this paper to let people know when new shops open and when old favorites close.

And, every year, you’ll hear an appeal – likely in this space – to consider spending your money locally when you can.

The climate for retail has not gotten easy in recent years. Online behemoths like eBay and Amazon are sucking up millions of dollars in purchase. Subscription plans for everything from music to groceries is also taking more and more money out of local economies.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 38% of holiday shopping is expected to take place online, a 5% increase over last year. That’s a large piece of the shopping pie that will likely only grow in the future.

We all know shopping local is the best bet to support our neighborhoods, even if we’re not always great at putting that knowledge to practice. There are some pretty important findings from the SBA that illustrate just how important shopping local can be.

• Small, local businesses donate 250% more to  non-profits and community efforts than larger businesses.

• Out of every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in in the local economy. Of that same $100 spent at big box stores, only $43 stays in the local economy.

Aside from those clear, numerical benefits, shopping local keeps unique business in Chestnut Hill that often offer much better customer service than you’d find at a big box store or online retailer. And those same charming businesses do wonders for local property values on and off Germantown Avenue, Bethlehem Pike and elsewhere.

Opportunities abound this month to get out and shop locally for the holidays. Every Wednesday until Christmas, shops on Germantown Avenue are staying open late for the traditional Chestnut Hill Stag and Doe nights – a holiday custom that stems from an old neighborhood practice in which women would leave wish lists at local shops for their husbands, who would go out on Wednesday nights and hunt for their spouse’s favorite things.

This Saturday will also feature the fourth annual Chestnut Hill Holiday Parade. The parade will begin at 9 a.m. and will be followed the rest of the day by holiday festivities, events and more around Chestnut Hill. The daylong series of events has been dubbed Sugarplum Saturday by the Chestnut Hill Business District and includes holiday hay wagon rides, photo ops with Santa and gingerbread house making.

It’s a good time to be sure to spend time and money locally, knowing it all goes a long way to helping yourself, too.

Pete Mazzaccaro

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