Yes , we know that Amazon Prime has free two-day shipping. We know you can shop without having to put on pants. We know you can read reviews from other shoppers while also not wearing pants. But with the holidays approaching, TODAY would like to offer up some advantages to shopping in our local brick-and-mortar stores. They might require you to put on pants, but the trade-offs are so much better, and it’s more than just some feel-good act of altruism. Shopping local benefi ts you, and there are hard facts to back that up. Read on to fi nd out our Top Five Reasons to Shop Local. gmh Community Investment Tis the season to shop locally Written By Carly Gelsinger When we shop local, we are buying from our friends, neighbors, parents of children in our school districts, people we go to church with, people who serve on the board of local nonprofi ts—in other words, we are buying from people who have a vested interest in our region. “Studies show that local business generates 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail. Spending $100 at a local business equals $68 in local economic activity vs. $48 generated at a big box store,” said Melanie Corona, director of the Gilroy Downtown Business Association. And it tends to have a trickle-down effect. Because local business owners are invested in their community, they tend to give to local charities, pumping even more money back into the local economy. “People come in all the time, asking for money for a fundraiser, and we always try to help them whether it’s a school or a church,” said Brad Jones, co-owner of Booksmart in Morgan Hill on Dunne Avenue. “And I really doubt they get help from Amazon.” And homeowners, don’t forget that housing prices are stronger in cities with thriving local businesses, Builds Character Local businesses are the backbone of a community. Stop by any town across the country, and you’re sure to fi nd a Denny’s with the same standard menu and the same uniform look. But there’s only one OD’s Kitchen. There’s only one Lawson’s Bakery. These are the places that set the South Valley apart from everywhere else. According to Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.” Not only do communities with character benefi t their locals, but they draw tourism. Think about it this way—how would you rather spend a romantic afternoon? Strolling downtown with its unique boutiques, restaurants, gift shops, and wine tasting rooms? Or sitting in front of your computer wondering if what you see is what you’re going to get? Communities that support their local businesses are communities that thrive; and communities that thrive are places that people like to live, work and play.