This holiday season, support hometown businesses. They are the lifeblood of communities

It is no fault of billionaire Jeff Bezos that COVID-19 is the grinch who stole Christmas from many people in our communities. Bezos did not bring the virus to our country. We have no hesitation in suggesting that if he could end the epidemic by spending his entire fortune, he would do so.

Still, the coronavirus has increased Bezos’ wealth greatly. He is the founder of the online marketing goliath Amazon, which has never been more popular than now.

Tens of millions of Americans will do most, if not all, their holiday season shopping with Amazon and online retailers like it. They will argue that it simply is not safe for them to patronize local brick-and-mortar stores.

Local retailers, from mom-and-pop specialty shops to the big-box stores, rely on Christmas shoppers for significant chunks of the revenue that keeps them open year-round. If they have a bad holiday shopping season, they suffer terribly. Some many not survive long into the new year.

So what? Well, put on your thinking cap for a moment.

How many local residents work for Amazon? In all likelihood, none. Yet thousands of our friends, family members and neighbors rely on local stores to put bread and butter on the table.

What portion of local taxes — supporting our schools, law enforcement and dozens of other local government services — are paid by Amazon? Again, you guessed it: None, unless local sales taxes net a few pennies from online retailers.

And what happens when we need donations to support worthwhile local initiatives ranging from youth baseball to helping the needy at Christmas? Don’t bother asking Bezos for a contribution. Amazon doesn’t do local worthy causes, except in very rare situations.

Local retailers — many of whom have their own websites, by the way — are the very lifeblood of our communities. In a very real way, they are us.

Don’t let Amazon be the grinch who stole Christmas from them — and thus, our communities. Shop at home, if you can while staying safe. On Dec. 25, the knowledge you have supported local retailers will make your Christmas brighter.

This guest editorial was originally published by the Fort Dodge Messenger on Dec. 11.

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