This Christmas, Shop Local – For The Fun Of It!

This Christmas, Shop Local – For The Fun Of It!

Editorial in the Edition of Thursday-Friday, Nov. 27-28

Shopping local isn’t simply a feel-good decision. It’s essential to the economic well-being of our Otsego County neighbors and ourselves.

In recent days, that’s been dramatized by the debate over whether the county should close the Department of Motor Vehicles Office in Cooperstown. The office was under threat because local drivers have opted to renew their licenses in Albany via the Internet.

Earlier this year, Otsego County Clerk Kathy Sinnot Gardner estimated $523,618 in online license renewals cost the county $63,500.

As the problem continued this year, the county Board of Representatives considered cutting two DMV jobs, saving an estimated $100,000 in salaries and benefits. Folks, those two salaries were going to local friends and neighbors, who spent that money locally, to everyone’s benefit.

Local auto dealers also weighed in on the debate, arguing the local offices’ efficiency helps them speedily process the paperwork to get the car you just bought quickly and conveniently into your hands. Send the paperwork to Albany? Good luck.

Folks, get out of that chair. Navigate and perambulate to your local DMV office. You’ll enjoy the fresh air and scenery. You’ll run into friends. Good times. The online experience is a limited one, and damaging to localities.

Also last year, going into what’s usually a shopping-heavy fourth quarter on our Main Streets and Southside Mall, county sales-tax revenues were running 3.5 percent ahead of the year before. So many local shoppers went to the Internet, however, sales-tax income had dropped to a 1.3 percent bump by year’s end, according to county Treasurer
Dan Crowell.

That represented a loss of an anticipated $600,000, he said. This year, sales-tax revenues are 4.02 percent ahead. But if local shoppers opt out as they did last year, that will translate into a $1.1 million loss in revenues, Crowell said.

Online retailers are supposed to charge and return the appropriate sales tax to localities, but that isn’t happening routinely. But that’s going to take a while to straighten out, if it ever is.

This editorial isn’t being written to make you, online Christmas shoppers, feel guilty. Shopping online is hard to resist with the convenience of it and sites like saving you a fortune! But you’re missing the fun.

“I don’t think it’s even the same experience,” said Luisa Montanti, who spent years in retail before becoming Southside Mall manager. “We shoppers love to spend our money, but we also like the experience of going to the store, talking to the store clerk, trying things on and picking out the right color.”

Plus, how often do you get something in the mail and have to send it back. How aggravating is that? Any convenience from online shopping goes out the window.

In the weeks between now and Christmas, Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal are going to feature fun local gifts, starting in this edition with Riverwood’s Todd Gibbons in Cooperstown and Monkey Barrel’s Kristian House in Oneonta. These are real toy stores, run by real aficionados of fun. Check ’em out.

Novelty is one aspect of Christmas, and novelty is what our serendipitous local merchants can deliver under the tree on Dec. 25. Partake!