The Importance of Shopping Local This Holiday Season

As the holidays approach and we hear news stories about a price war on books between Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target, I’d like to take a moment and remind folks about the value of shopping locally.

And special emphasis on the word “value.”

I sometimes wonder if we too often get so caught up in “bargains,” especially when we shop at large big box retailers that we forget about the value of supporting our local downtown retailers.

We seem to have made the transition in thinking when we talk about buying food locally. The farmer’s market in downtown Salem has proven to be a huge success, and folks often go out of their way (and even pay more) to get quality food that has been produced on local farms. But when it comes to shopping at other local retailers, price suddenly becomes king.

So what is the “value” in shopping locally?

I’ll argue any day, that like our new farmer’s market, there is “nutritional value” in shopping local, and that spending a bit more in your local shops contributes much more to the health of our community than sending your dollars to huge corporate retailers. Dollars spent in Salem stay in Salem; by shopping here, you are investing in a thriving downtown. Conversely, dollars spent outside Salem contribute to the erosion of our city. It’s a pretty simple principle, but easy, I think to forget, when times are tough.

So, how exactly do dollars spent downtown stay in Salem? Well, it means that our business spends money regularly with 2 local printers, a bakery and a local hardware store. We give a percentage of sales to local organizations and schools when we host book fairs and offsites. It means we frequently donate books to local fundraisers. Our employees frequent local restaurants. And our tax dollars go to improving Salem.

In a nutshell, when you shop at an independently owned business, your entire community benefits:

The Economy



  • Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
  • Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
  • More of your taxes are reinvested in your community–where they belong.
The Environment



  • Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.
The Community



  • Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
  • Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
  • More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

We believe there is immense value in providing great customer service, folks who know what kinds of books you like, and who simply know you. We work hard to provide a venue for local book clubs and community meetings. We sponsor many free events, including local authors, childrens events, music, and seminars. We are a primary sponsor of the Salem Literary Festival — the first of its kind in Salem. We regularly reach out and staff book fairs with local schools. For you, our customers, we believe there is great value in not having to drive to the mall, being able to order any book not in our physical store, including used and out-of-print titles.

Times are tough, make no mistake. We completely understand people’s concern about overspending, and I can even identify with those who say that Wal-Mart can be a lifeline when money is tight. So let me take a minute to remind folks that we have lots of ways to save at Cornerstone Books:

  • Now through Christmas (while supplies last!), we’re having super specials on great stocking stuffers like DVDs, boardgames, music and video games at $5, $10 and $20.
  • For the post-Thanksgiving weekend (Friday through Sunday), we’re throwing our always-popular 10-20-30-40 Sale. That means 10% off your first purchased item, 20% off your 2nd, 30% off your third and 40% off your fourth. These discounts apply to items not already discounted, and can only be applied to books. Come take advantage of big savings on the post-Thanksgiving weekend!
  • We print coupons in our email and printed newsletter, and accept valid Borders and Barnes & Noble Coupons as well
  • The top 5 hardcover bestsellers are always 20% off in the store, and you can find great deals on the discount cart.
  • Most hardcovers and trade paperbacks are 20% off on our website, and books ship directly from the warehouse to your home — our website is as easy to use as Amazon, and has the added benefit of supporting your local bookstore.
  • The Lucky 13 frequent buyer card becomes worth $30 if you shop with us regularly.
  • Military (with ID), students (with ID) and teachers (with ID), and local schools get regular discounts at cornerstone, as do book club members on their club picks.

So as the holiday shopping heats up, and the urge to go on a bargain-hunting spree, please remember those local stores who are contributing to Salem. We ask that you choose to shop with us and avoid the big box bargain siren call. Those corporation can afford a drop in Christmas sales and will be around no matter what. We need you more than ever this year, and we want to be here for the community for years to come.

Next week, we’ll talk about the many things we are thankful for in this difficult year, and first on our list is you, our loyal customers.

Best to all our families this holiday season and joy to you all,

Gilbert Pili


3 Responses to “The Importance of Shopping Local This Holiday Season”

  1. November 18, 2009 at 11:37 am

    This article was fabulous. I will post on facebook. It is so important to stay local! Thanks for all you do
    Jen Flynn

  2. 2 Bill Reeve
    December 30, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Wow! You sure do write well. Nicely stated!! I couldn’t agree with you more.

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