EDITORIAL: Shop locally and help your communities

Not enough people on Whidbey Island realize that you can help your own community simply by shopping here, especially during the holiday season when people part with a good portion of their annual discretionary spending.

What it boils down to is the sales tax. While the state takes the largest share, there is a significant amount of revenue that is retained locally to support the cities of Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley, as well as Island County government and Island Transit.

Sales taxes help pay for city police officers, sheriff’s deputies, free bus service, programs to help the needy, park improvements and myriad other programs local governments are involved in. Island County even has a special sales tax to raise money to fund and operate a juvenile detention center.

Just as importantly, shopping locally supports local businesses so they can continue to operate, expand, hire more people and generally help Island County’s economy thrive.

If you’re doing all your shopping in Burlington, Bellingham, Lynnwood or Seattle, your sales tax dollars are going to those communities for services that will not benefit yourself in the least. And they’re certainly not hiring your children, friends and neighbors as they expand.

The island now boasts the big box stores that offer all the popular items seen on TV, but it also is home to dozens of unique businesses that offer arts, crafts and services not available in the national chain stores. Try to be more creative in your gift purchasing this year, then you’ll uncover all the little gems hidden away in the downtown business districts of Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland and Langley.

Consider the other benefits of shopping at home: No huge crowds, no traffic snarls, much less stress on yourself and your family members, and many unique gift items that will be truly appreciated by the recipient. On top of that, you’ll be helping your community retain the government services we all need.

It’s amazing how much good you can do simply by shopping in the right place.

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