Editorial: Shop, sure, but consider your local merchants first

By the time you read this, some of your neighbors may have wrapped up their Christmas shopping.

They may have bundled up in long lines at local stores, spent half the night in the Lake Charles chill, plotting their plans

for scoring the Big Bargain. Or bargains.

They may have made their list, checked it twice and plunged into the darkness, waiting for the store doors to slide open and

the huntin’ to commence. And once those doors slide open, well, there’s no holding some shoppers back.

Christmas shopping itself can be waged

like a campaign, with preparation, study and strategy. Shoppers pore

through the fliers

inserted into the Thanksgiving Day newspaper, coordinate plans

with fellow shoppers, plot their paths through favorite stores

or malls. Thanksgiving? That ends when the last plate enters the

dishwasher, in some cases.

Black Friday — this may have started as

a negative phrase decades ago, when police in Philadelphia lamented the

traffic jams

and confusion of post Thanksgiving shopping — has evolved into

something altogether different. Nowadays, merchants talk about

Black Friday as the start of the holiday shopping season, when

their stores finally show a profit for the 11 months of toil

that merchants have invested in a year. For the stores, it’s a

positive thing.

It’s a positive thing for most

shoppers, too, although surveys show perhaps one-third of holiday

shoppers swear they never

chance the Black Friday mayhem. Better to shop earlier or later.

About eight in 10 shoppers say they shop for themselves this

day.

But many shoppers revel in the sheer excitement and camaraderie they enjoy this day. They should. They shop with family and

friends, intent on buying gifts to please others. What’s not to admire in that?

No matter the druthers of local

shoppers, whether they are Black Friday shoppers or prefer to make their

shopping quests in

less frenzied circumstances, we hope they consider shopping with

their local merchants first. The shopping season presents

area merchants with their best opportunities to make 2012 a

successful year for their stores ­— the stores that in many cases

employ our family members, friends and neighbors.

Shopping locally boosts local tax coffers, helping area governments pay their bills. Shopping locally strengthens our Southwest

Louisiana stores, the ones that many local charities depend upon for gifts and support in local charitable campaigns.

No one can stop local people from traveling out of town or out of state for their annual shopping sprees. It’s a free country.

But the good that neighborhood merchants, local stores and shopping areas do for our community should not be underestimated

or overlooked. In this season of thinking of others, we should think of shopping at home first.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,

Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.