Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where will your holiday shopping dollars go?

Will they go to pay for a CEO's jet 3,000 miles away, or will they go to pay for the park in your town?  You can decide that when you choose where you will be shopping!

As the holidays approach and we hear news stories about a price war on books between the mega-marts, we’d like to take a moment and remind folks about the value of shopping locally.

And special emphasis on the word “value.”

We wonder if  shoppers too often get so caught up in “bargains,” especially when they shop at large big box retailers that  forget about the value of supporting our local downtown retailers.

For the most part American's seem to have made the transition in thinking when we talk about buying food locally.  The farmer’s market in downtown Lititz has proven to be a huge success, and folks often go out of their way (and even pay more) to get quality food that has been produced on local farms. But when it comes to shopping at other local retailers, price suddenly becomes king.

So what is the “value” in shopping locally?

I’ll argue any day, that like our new farmer’s market, there is “nutritional value” in shopping local, and that spending a bit more in your local shops contributes much more to the health of our community than sending your dollars to huge corporate retailers. Dollars spent in a locally owned store stay in the community; by shopping here, you are investing in a thriving diverse region. Conversely, dollars spent at chain stores contribute to the erosion of our region. It’s a pretty simple principle, but easy, we think to forget, when times are tough.

So, how exactly do dollars spent downtown stay in Lancasater County? Well, it means that our business spends money regularly with 2 local printers, local paer supplier, local caterers, and a local hardware store. We give a percentage of sales to local non-profit organizations and schools when we host book fairs and offsite events. It means we frequently donate books to local fundraisers. Our employees frequent local restaurants. And our tax dollars go to improving Lancaster County.

In a nutshell, when you shop at an independently owned business, your entire community benefits:

• Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.

• Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.

• More of your taxes are reinvested in your community–where they belong.

• Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.

• Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.

• Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.

• Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.

• More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

We believe there is immense value in providing great customer service, folks who know what kinds of books you like, and who simply know you. We work hard to provide a venue for local book clubs and community meetings. We sponsor many free events, including local authors, childrens events, music, and lectures. We are a primary sponsor of the Lancasater Literary Guild. We host book fairs with local schools. For you, our customers, we believe there is great value in not having to drive to the mall, being able to order any book not in our physical store, including used and out-of-print titles.

Times are tough, make no mistake. We completely understand people’s concern about overspending, and I can even identify with those who say that Wal-Mart can be a lifeline when money is tight. So let us take a minute to remind folks that we have lots of ways to save at Aaron's Books:

  • ALL teachers and college students get an automatic 10% off their purchase 
  • For Black Friday  (Nov. 27) we are opening extra early with extra discounts (25% off new books from 6am-8am, 15% off new books 8am-10am, 10% off new books 10am-11am). 
  • We include coupons in our email newsletter, and honor as best we can valid Borders and Barnes & Noble Coupons as well
  • Many of our hardcover new books are already discounted 10-20% off (some as much as 40% off!!)
  • Join our Book-aholics program; when you spent $150 total, you get $15 worth of books FREE (and it's free to join!)
  • Special order a new book we don't have in stock and save 10-20% off, and it ships to us FREE

 So as the holiday shopping heats up, and the urge to go on a bargain-hunting spree, please remember those local stores who are contributing to Lancaster County. We ask that you choose to shop with us and avoid the big box bargain siren call. Those corporation can afford a drop in Christmas sales and will be around no matter what. We need you more than ever this year, and we want to be here for the community for years to come.

Best to all our families this holiday season and joy to you all,


 - Sam, Todd & Aaron