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Osakis Voices: Give local businesses first chance

With the holiday shopping season upon us, I want to take my space in this column to stress the importance of doing business locally. I'm as guilty as the next person who finds purchasing items online to be addictingly convenient. I know that there are times where it is easier to shop at a place where I can get all my items at once. With that said, we are fortunate to live, work, or play in this small community and its existence depends on keeping the community wealth recirculating as much as possible.

Locally-owned businesses are the lifeblood of small, rural communities like Osakis. Their owners make decisions with the community in mind, not just their bottom lines. They support local functions and donate to local causes. They volunteer on boards and in organizations to help promote the community where they do business, and more often than not, live in. They provide the uniqueness that makes a city an appealing destination to tourists and residents. They pay a higher percentage of the property tax dollars, keeping the residential property taxes low, while allowing the city to offer high-quality services and amenities.

As residents, you have made a choice to invest in the community of Osakis. As employees of Osakis businesses and institutions, your livelihood depends on the health of the community. And as consumers you have the opportunity every time you make a purchase to support the community where you choose to live, work or play. While life keeps us very busy, oftentimes too busy to be active in the community, a purchase at an Osakis business will be directly supporting the community efforts through the many ways mentioned above.

No Osakis business expects to get 100 percent of your purchases in the item or services they sell, but they would like to get first chance to earn your business. If you choose to give these business owners the opportunity, you can expect to see price competitive, high quality products and services, as well as advice you can trust. If business owners had to live their lives surrounded by their customers, there would be no need for extensive government regulations to protect us from questionable practices driven by corporate greed. At Osakis businesses you can still have the assurance that the owners providing the goods and services stand behind them and put the consumer ahead of the product or service. Our reputation is more important than our sales margin.

That dollar you send to Amazon's headquarters will likely not end up helping employ a neighbor, lower your taxes, or support a community effort you care about. So, before you spend it, check and see if there's an option that's nearby. If we are intentional, the support we give will bring the products, jobs, businesses, and amenities that keep us living in and loving the community of Osakis.

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Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.