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With the biggest shopping season of the year just behind us, I know I will not need to get in shopping mode for a long time. And even though mid-January leaves me with 350-something days left to shop, I tend to find Christmas shopping on my mind in January more often than the other months of the year.

So, what am I thinking about buying next year?

I am really not sure, but I do know I have one goal in mind: shop local. I know people who have attempted to go completely local for their Christmas shopping – as in buying every single gift from local manufacturers and retailers. I am not quite that ambitious. I know some of my family will ask for things that are not made in Newfoundland and Labrador, but I would like to spend as much of my Christmas shopping money as possible supporting the local economy next year.

My desire to support the local economy comes from my love of Newfoundland and Labrador. I want to stay in the province and I want the people I know to have the option to stay here as well. I recognize that in order for people to stay, we need work here and if we want work in Newfoundland and Labrador, we need economic activity. By buying products from local manufacturers and shops we are supporting the small businesses that keep the provincial economy together.

By buying from those who continue to invest in the province, we make the province a better place to live with every local purchase we make. With that being said, I never plan to buy a locally-made product that I do not like for myself or for anyone as a gift. In supporting local businesses, what I am really doing is giving fair consideration to the local alternatives for the products I always buy. I will not choose an inferior product just because it is locally-made.

So why do I need to make an effort to consider local products? Why does everyone not give fair consideration to locally-made products? I think the basic answer to that question is the difference in marketing budgets. The huge companies that make the gifts most of us buy as Christmas gifts have the money to convince us to do so. Big companies buy television ads, banner ads online, shelf space at Wal-Mart, etc., to make their products easy to remember and simple to buy. Smaller businesses do not have the money to force their products on us all in the same way. So the effort needed to buy local products really just takes the form of a little research. Unless you work in economic development, there are probably a lot more locally-made products here than you know. Did you know there are video games developed in Newfoundland? Snowboards made on the west coast? Gourmet chocolates for sale on Duckworth Street? World famous snare drums crafted on the island?

I imagine there are many products made here of which we are unaware. So, I suggest the next time we go shopping – at Christmas or any other time of the year – we put in just a little effort to look for a local gift. We might leave everyone pleasantly surprised with our shopping choice.

Megan Denty is a fifth-year commerce student. She can be reached at m.denty@mun.ca.

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