SIERRA VISTA — With the holiday season here, members of the local business community offer reminders about why it pays to shop locally.

Les Orchekowsky, Ace Hardware business owner

“By shopping local, money stays in the community and benefits the local economy,” said Les Orchekowsky, owner of Ace Hardware stores in Sierra Vista, Benson and Bisbee.

“The local businesses and stores in Sierra Vista are here to serve the community and businesses are dependent on the community supporting them. In return, businesses give back to the community in a number of different ways,” Orchekowsky said.

Businesses collect sales tax and the buildings they are occupying are paying property taxes that support schools and public services, noted Orchekowsky, who also pointed to how the employees of local businesses support a community’s economy by purchasing goods and services.

“Most employees shop and support other local businesses in town, which further strengthens the local economy.”

When asked about potential impacts online shopping has on businesses, Orchekowsky said that online shopping has allowed consumers a wider product selection compared to what businesses can provide.

“The online businesses are able to broadcast to a wider audience,” he said. “Business owners can take advantage of online opportunities by providing online shopping options for their customers. We’ve changed how we do business through the years by offering our inventory online.

“Items that are not in stock can be shipped to our store where customers can pick them up right at the store, along with complementary products. For example, if a customer purchases a barbecue grill online, we have the grill covers, accessories and seasoning at the store — the whole package.”

Orchekowsky said that technology allows customers both hands-on and virtual shopping.

“I think back to the old catalog shopping days,” he said. “Online shopping is the same thing, only much faster.”

Regardless of how customers prefer to shop, Orchekowsky is a staunch advocate of supporting local businesses.

“It does pay to shop local. Everybody in the community wins by shopping local.”

Tony Boone, Sierra Vista Economic Development Manager

Developing a shop local campaign is something Sierra Vista City Council has been working on as part of its strategic plan, said Tony Boone, Sierra Vista Economic Development Manager.

“Council approved the strategic plan this year, so we have been working on the initial ideas of how to accomplish a buy local campaign and have been identifying partners for the last few months,” said Boone. “‘I’ve been working with Local First Arizona and chambers of commerce as a way forward for the campaign.”

Council also approved the economic development framework of the strategic plan early in 2019 where six areas of change were provided, which could improve the local environment.

“Efforts include the West End redevelopment, encouraging tourism and retail from Mexico, improving and sustaining parks and community events, increasing the awareness of Sierra Vista, increasing the impact of the municipal airport on our economy, and expanding awareness and opportunity of military missions on Fort Huachuca,” Boone said through an email. “These are led by numerous city staff to bring about the change we identified.”

When it comes to the benefits of shopping locally, research has shown that purchasing goods from a locally owned business will impact a community up to three times more than a national chain, he said.

“Locally owned businesses sponsor kids, schools and local nonprofits, so they are invested in the community,” Boone said. “Local businesses hire local workers and staff for their stores.”

While it’s true that a lot of people are shopping online, Boone says research also indicates that brick-and-mortar businesses are not dead.

“Businesses in Sierra Vista are facing the same phenomenon that retailers across the world are facing when it comes to online shopping,” he said. “Amazon is everywhere and it puts a lot of pressure on local businesses because of the access and convenience they provide. Success with a lot of businesses has to do with the customer’s experience given by the company.”

Melany Edwards-Barton, Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce interim CEO

Along with her role as the interim chief executive officer for the Sierra Vista Area Chamber of Commerce, Melany Edwards-Barton sits on the chamber board and co-chairs the military affairs committee as a representative of the chamber. She also is a real estate agent.

Edwards-Barton is a passionate advocate of local shopping and the advantages it brings to the community.

“Shopping locally is so important because small businesses are the heart and soul of every community,” she said. “When you support a local business you can create special connections with the people who work for that business. Shoppers are more inclined to find unique products by making purchases locally, especially fun during the holiday season.”

Small business owners typically give back to the community more than the larger businesses, Edwards-Barton said.

“By staying in Sierra Vista and shopping locally, you contribute to the local tax base, support schools, and contribute to a more sustainable community,” she said. “You’re supporting the community by reinvesting tax dollars back into the local economy. You’re also providing a healthy livelihood for the businesses and their families and contributing to a healthy community,” she said.

For those who are looking for the best deals during times like Black Friday, Edwards-Barton said small businesses are often very competitive and some are open to price matching.

“With the biggest shopping season of the year coming up, I urge the community to explore local shopping opportunities by supporting our local retailers,” Edwards-Barton said. “Shopping locally is a win-win for the entire community in so many ways.”

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