By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Whether it's books, a pampering package, jewelry, restaurant certificates, fishing trips or theater tickets, shopping local for holiday presents can help others in the community.
By purchasing items from locally-owned stores and restaurants in the community, not only are you getting items crossed off your Christmas list, you could be creating job security for someone you've never met and helping out a local charity, said Helene Caseltine, economic development director for the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce.
"There are a number of advantages to buying local," said Beth Mitchell, executive director of the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce.
"You know the people you're doing business with, so you have a higher level of trust. It also helps people in our communities. By shopping local, you are circulating the dollars in our community and keeping it in our community.
"It keeps us all strong," Ms. Mitchell said.
Shopping local has a domino effect, said Ms. Caseltine and Ms. Mitchell.
For example, suppose someone gets a haircut at a family-owned barber shop. That haircut helps the shop employee pay for school supplies for their child at a local office supply store, which helps that business owner grow their business, employ more people and give back to the community by donating to a local nonprofit, Ms. Mitchell said.
"It just multiplies," she said.
For a big picture perspective, shopping local boosts the overall economy and helps a certain quality of life, Ms. Caseltine said.
Local businesses pay taxes in the county, helping pay for roads, and they also collect sales tax, which is again used in the community in various ways, Ms. Caseltine said.
"I always like to buy locally, whether I go to the shops on Ocean Drive in Vero Beach, or Ditch 13 in Fellsmere, you can find some really cool stuff," she said.
The smaller, locally-owned stores are more likely to have unique items or items that reflect Indian River County and the lifestyle enjoyed by so many in the area, Ms. Caseltine said.
"Sebastian has some really cool shops, as do many places in the county, and can give people these gifts that you can't find anywhere else," she said.