Mercer Islanders set up new ‘Local Dollars, Local Youth’ campaign to offer benefits for all

Shopping local is always good; shopping local this November is especially great for our kids. This month, Nov. 1-30, the Chamber of Commerce kicks off its shop local campaign with Local Dollars, Local Youth (LDLY). LDLY is an Islandwide fundraiser that allows shoppers to add a dollar to their bill, place money in an envelope as they pay for their meal, or put change in a jar at the checkout counters. These donations support four of the largest youth-serving entities on the Island: Youth and Family Services, Youth Theatre Northwest, the Boys and Girls Club and the Schools Foundation. Funds raised will be divided equally among these four organizations to support their on-going programs which touch the lives of every Island youth.

Shopping locally is vital to any community, and this is especially true on our little Island. When we shop locally, both business owners and Island residents benefit economically and socially — keeping more money in our local economy. By some estimates, dollars spent in locally-owned businesses can have up to three times the impact on the community as those spent at corporate chains, creating a strong multiplier effect. Whether for retail goods or services, every dollar spent locally helps build a healthy retail sector which attracts new businesses and new residents, and ensures the positive continuation of our community.

Many Island business owners live on Mercer Island and they employ Island residents as well—often providing many of our youth with their first close-to-home job experience. In addition to direct employment, these businesses use a wide array of supporting services; employees of businesses mail packages, buy office supplies, go to lunch, pick up a gift near their place of employment, grocery shop, even work out at the local gym. On the operation side businesses create opportunities for local accountants, insurance agents, computer technicians, attorneys, advertising agencies as well as other professionals to help run them. In addition, local retailers and distributors are more likely to carry a higher percentage of locally-made goods, offering the valuable benefit of exposure for local artisans.

Local businesses most often reflect the tastes and characters of its residents. Local shop owners sift through competing goods and services to find those that appeal to their community. Though some shops may not have as large a selection as a big chain outlet, a grouping of independent retailers in a small downtown provides much needed diversity. Here on the Island, we have wonderful restaurants, unique clothing stores, compelling gift stores, and an abundance of services that enhance our lifestyles. The shop owners are invested in our shopping experience and know their products well.

Generally speaking, local businesses are more invested in community issues, and Mercer Island’s are certainly no exception to the rule. Our Island businesses are invested in our kids and our quality of life. As any Island group trying to do a fundraiser can tell you, the local businesses are often first to step up and help out with any endeavor — providing funds, volunteers and many in-kind donations. They strengthen the life of our community.

So, this November when you’re hungry, need a new outfit, want to re-do a room in your house, or need a great bottle of wine — start here on the Island. Find that new book, bouquet of flowers, box of chocolates, great hair cut, or that perfect gift — right here, locally. Shopping on Mercer Island, in town center and our South end shopping center, is an integral part of maintaining our unique community. Mercer Island businesses offer almost anything you need, so buy local — and this month, help our youth along the way.

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