JP Observer: Time to spend—and give—locally

December 16, 2011
By

No matter how little or how much money local folks have to spend this special month of December, the best place to do it is here in the neighborhood.

Fortunately, many businesses offer merchandise and services at price ranges that match the range of incomes of JP residents. Restaurants beckon to us with food from around the world. Not only gifts but also gift certificates, whose price is always right, are available at restaurants, for services and at stores.

Advising people to shop locally may be a relatively new thing nationally, but Jamaica Plainers have been saying it for years. The December issues of the JP Gazette in 1991 carried the message, “Think globally. Shop locally.”

Positive numbers about local and small business—well-known here for a while—have recently spread. Lots of people have now heard that, on average, 60 cents of every dollar spent in a local business stays in the neighborhood. They recognize, too, that 65 percent of jobs created in the past 10 years around the country were created by small businesses—businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving this year was named “Small Business Saturday” by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation National Main Street Center, trying to draw people to shop at those important stores. Major media promotion of Black Friday shopping the day after Thanksgiving enticed people to big-box stores for bargains. Unfortunately, there was much less hype for Saturday shopping. Maybe Small Business Saturday will grow next year.

December, the last month of the tax year, is traditionally a month for giving to nonprofits, as well as to friends and family. Just as residents should shop locally, they should focus on donating locally, too.

JP had more than 230 functioning nonprofits within its 02130 ZIP code as of a few years ago. Nonprofits are the largest employers here. They provide a range of much-needed services to the community. For an extensive list and contact information, see JP Resources and Senior Resources at JamaicaPlainGazette.com. Some nonprofits, like the Eliot School, are offering gift certificates for their products and public services this year.

When talk after the 2008 economic downturn centered on Wall Street, there was a refreshing national outcry: “What about Main Street?” People were referring to local business districts like the ones we have here.

JP is fortunate to have three of Boston’s Main Streets programs—Egleston, Hyde/Jackson and JP Centre/South—supported by the City of Boston and other major and individual contributors. All year, Main Streets programs work to unite residents and businesses to improve the business districts of the neighborhood.

Three business associations composed of mostly business people also help the neighborhood by improving storefronts, sponsoring promotions, encouraging cleanups, organizing events, etc. Donating to a business association or Main Streets program, in addition to other local nonprofits, shows support for their important community work.

Shopping and giving in Jamaica Plain are the best ways to wish the neighborhood a happy New Year.