You don’t need pie charts or fancy statistics to know that supporting local businesses is good for the local economy. When dollars are spent in a community, they are returned to the community through salaries, donations, shopping and building the local tax base.

“Shopping local keeps shops open, people employed, and buildings maintained instead of shuttered and deteriorating,” says Jeanne Modlin and Joleen Aberer. “It keeps tax income local, which further helps the community to grow and prosper.”

The St. Joseph sisters have owned Blessings of St. Joseph, 300 S. Belt Highway, Ste. D, for decades. They believe the personal contact and service small businesses provide is crucial.

“Personal interaction is important in an increasingly technology-driven economy,” they say. “When shopping locally, you’re certain you’re getting exactly what you want instead of guessing from sometimes ambiguous online descriptions or deceiving pictures.”

Yet there is no denying that consumers are driving the market of easy, on-demand shopping. It’s why Davina Fansher says online shopping groups and “porch pickup” groups are popping up everywhere. Brick-and-mortar owners are getting savvy.

Fansher owns a clothing and accessories store called SL Boutique, 403 W. Main in Savannah, Missouri. While she owns a store-front, she does a lot of business online.

“It gives the shopper the ease of shopping right from their home without getting out of their pajamas with just a few clicks of a button,” she says. “Then they can pick up locally at their convenience or, most of us offer free shipping with a certain amount. Amazon …. Small businesses are coming for you!”

Years ago, the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce saw the need to encourage local shopping and started its Shop St. Joseph Holiday Program. Now, more than ever, the organization is urging consumers to spend their money within their communities.

“It’s to really hit home the message to think about their buying decisions during the holidays and we offer an incentive to do it,” says Natalie Redmond, vice president, membership at the Chamber.

From day one, she says consumers have been very supportive of the holiday program. Participating retailers hand out tickets for every $10 spent in their stores during the program’s season. Customers also get a ticket just for coming in, too. Each ticket enters them into a chance to win a $10,000 grand prize. There are also second-chance drawings to win gift certificates and prizes from the retailers as well.

The initial effort was to keep shoppers from leaking into other, surrounding cities. Today, the program still has that goal in mind but now encompasses online shopping.

Redmond says that consumers should consider that the store owner down the street is supporting the PTA, The United Way and other aspects of their communities.

“It may be convenient to shop online but I challenge people to think beyond convenience,” she says.

Fansher believes buying local leaves an impact bigger than most could comprehend.

“You are putting a smile on that small business owner’s soul,’ she says. “You are giving them the power to keep their dream going. It’s a personal compliment when you buy from a small business … without even saying a word.”