This year, I wanted to buy from Maine small businesses for holiday gifts this year. There are a few different reasons for this but, the most profound reason wasn't realized until after I made my purchases, brought them into my house, and figured out the life of my money exists beyond just me.

Initially, my reasons for buying local was due to the following:

1) I WILL NOT USE A CREDIT CARD FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR

I have always used a credit card in the past. It's a debt I expect to carry year after year. But, this year, out of necessity, we gotta keep it tight with cash only. It means fewer presents but, at least we aren't paying for them into March- with interest!

2) SHIPPING TIMES ARE GOING TO SUCK THIS YEAR

Last year, we dealt with unprepared shippers. This year we are dealing with chain supply problems. So, paying for your online orders now is great but you are crossing your fingers that the perfect items will be available before Christmas. Frankly, there are plenty of things already in the area that we can buy that won't hamper a holiday deadline.

3) I WANT TO HELP SUPPORT MY FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS

This is one we logically are aware of, right? It's amazing businesses have made it this far into the pandemic AND kudos to those that started a business during the pandemic. Honestly, the pandemic has really brought out an awareness for local business like it never has for me before. I want to be sure my community is taken care of because, in the end, I need them, too.

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But, one thing I didn't logically deduce was the emotional take on spending my money local. With that, a fourth reason popped up after starting my holiday shopping on the rainy, Plaid Friday in Downtown Bangor last week. It wasn't something I fully realized upon collecting my bags of holiday buys out of the car and bringing them into my home.

4) BUYING GIFTS LOCALLY FEELS PURPOSEFUL AND MY MONEY IS WORTH SOMETHING

Another way that I would put this is that my money had more value, even after it left my hands. Bringing locally bought presents into the house felt different than bringing home a bunch of things bought at a local big box store or even having online items arrive from the mega online markets. It felt like the items we selected, bought, and brought into our home had soul. It felt like our money spent mattered. I knew that the kids would appreciate what we got them BUT, on top of that, I realized that the other part of this is that my money should be appreciated. And, I think local people who don't have the advantages of a huge online market or thousands of square feet of space across hundreds of thousands of locations worldwide would even care about the labor of my money.

Try it for yourself. Go to your local gift shop and find one thing for mom or a friend and feel the difference with spending your money. It could change how you shop and change how the local economy thrives beyond the pandemic and into the future.

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