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Shop locally; help the whole community

by Steve R. Weissinger

With Thanksgiving past and about 28 days remaining until Christmas Day, the holiday shopping clock is starting to tick for all of us. In January 1999, the release of the Sales Tax Leakage study showed that Douglas County continues to lose commercial/retail trade to surrounding jurisdictions to the tune of $172 million dollars per year. The report highlights the fact that many of us do a large part of our shopping outside of Douglas County. This past year, Douglas County has worked hard to bring in new businesses. The Lake and Valley chambers of commerce work diligently to promote local businesses.

When we shop outside of the county, we experience two pitfalls: 1) We fail to support the local businesses who give back to the community in a number of ways, and 2) we forego tax revenue needed to support public services.

I am not suggesting in this short time frame that we in Douglas County will have a significant impact on the total dollar amount spent outside of the county. What I hope to do is to stimulate some thought on this subject.

Although purchasing/shopping opportunities in Douglas County do not abound when compared to our northern neighbors, Carson City and Reno, with a little advance planning, we can still take advantage of what is available locally. And you may be surprised at what you can find.

For example, there are dozens of restaurants and several gas stations located throughout Douglas County. Why not specifically plan on fueling your vehicle and enjoying breakfast or lunch in Douglas County before reaching your shopping destination, which could very well be within the county? Just as a reminder, a portion of the tax collected at the gas pump helps fund our roads. Sales tax collected in eating and drinking establishments helps to directly maintain key county services. In fact, sales from eating and drinking places account for about 30 percent of taxable sales in Douglas County.

Whether your holiday shopping consists of finding that special gift of sporting goods, jewelry, specialty apparel, computer accessories or a one-of-a-kind novelty, give our local businesses a chance to earn your patronage. If you are not sure of the location of specific stores, stop by or call your local chamber of commerce and ask. They will be more than happy to assist you.

By shopping in Douglas County during this holiday season, there will be a spin-off effect that folks may not have contemplated. You, your son or daughter may be looking for some extra spending money during the holidays. Local businesses that already contribute very generously to our community may be hiring additional part-time help for the holidays; you may qualify for that part-time job. I believe the personal touch of getting to know your friends and neighbors while doing business helps add to the quality of life that already exists throughout Douglas County.

n Steve Weissinger is a Douglas County Commissioner representing District 1, the Gardnerville Ranchos.