A month long extravaganza featuring events, special deals and activities in support of local, independent businesses and farms that make our community unique is being sponsored by the Lowcountry Local First organization. Extending from November 15 through December 15, the promotions are designed to maximize economic impact for your friends and neighbors who own businesses in our community and cultivate the diverse nature of our local commercial environment as you go about your holiday shopping.

Locally owned enterprises produce greater benefits for our local economy than big-box chains because they spend more on local labor, purchase goods locally for resale, and engage services from local providers. Thus, a larger share of the money you spend in a local store stays in our local economy to support other local businesses, jobs and resources.

Local small businesses select products based on their own customized market plan and the needs of their local customers, rather than a national sales plan, meaning a broader range of choices for you. The expansion of national chains is often subsidized by massive development incentives and tax breaks offered by city and state governments, and the municipal obligations of providing services such as road maintenance, police and fire-fighting become a hefty burden on local taxpayers. Big-box stores also depress wages and benefits for retail employees, reducing their ability to participate in the local economy. The Andersonville Study of Retail Economics by Civic Economics, October 2004, found that “locally owned businesses generate 70 percent mor local economic impact per square foot than chain stores.”

(Source:  http://www.ilsr.org/key-studies-walmart-and-bigbox-retail/ )

Boone Hall Plantation is one of the oldest working plantations in America and still produces strawberries, tomatoes and pumpkins. They open their fields so you can pick your own fruit in season, and they have a market on Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant. They also host a variety of festivals, entertainment, educational programs, and tours.

http://boonehallplantation.com/

Winter is coming, so you may need something to keep you warm through those long, cold nights. People, Places & Quilts offers a variety of quilting kits, fabrics, books, patterns, and sewing machines, both online and in their brick and mortar store in historic downtown Summerville. They also have classes and clubs for those interested in learning the craft of quilting.

http://www.ppquilts.com/

Learn to grow your own at the MUSC Urban Farm, where students, faculty, staff, and the public come together in a living classroom to explore the connection between the land and healthy food. Their workshops, seminars and volunteer workdays will have you planting, growing, harvesting, and eating nutritional food.

http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/urbanfarm/

Step back in time and watch an authentic 1945 vintage gristmill produce fresh grits at the Geechie Boy Market & Mill on Edisto Island. Open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Thursday through Saturday, Greg Johnsman also offers a variety of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. Just look for the oversized red chair on Highway 174.

http://www.geechieboymill.com/www.geechieboymill.com/Welcome.html

These are just a few of the many opportunities available for you to help stir the local economy and support your friends and neighbors. You can find a much more comprehensive list on the Lowcountry Local First website:

http://www.lowcountrylocalfirst.org/

Looking for a special gift to brighten someone’s holidays? Check out the South Carolina Specialty Food Association website:

http://www.scsfa.org/AZ_directory.htm#Member_Directory

Happy shopping!

For more information about the author, Dave Schneider, please visit my Google+ page.