Commentary: Support small businesses this holiday season

With the holidays upon us, I would like to take a moment to remind everyone the importance of supporting our local businesses. As the executive director of Downtown Milford, Inc, a dynamic multi-faceted economic development organization, I understand that shopping local is more than just a movement. DMI has been a nationally accredited Main Street program for the past 11 years, only one of seven in the state of Delaware.

In being so, it is a mark of distinction that signifies commitment to comprehensive revitalization, community engagement, and rigorous outcome measurement. Our goal is preservation based economic development and community revitalization. By supporting local businesses, we are supporting our community. We are making Milford a desirable place to live, work and play.

Trish Gerken

So, why shop small? First and foremost — community. There are also enormous economic benefits to shopping small. One study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in your community compared to $43 when shopping at big box stores or online. That’s a big difference! When you shop local, you are embracing what makes our community unique. You are shopping based on local interests, not national trends. With a thriving downtown, our city becomes more attractive for those visiting and moving, becoming a main force of economic development.

There is a reason we are called “River Town, Art Town, Home Town”. Many of our local businesses are located at the epicenter of our city –along the Mispillion River. What is more “hometown” than walking into your favorite coffee shop and asking for your usual? Or going to your local restaurant and seeing everyone from your high school history teacher to your dog groomer? Or beating your old cross country coach in the final question on trivia night?

By visiting our local shops, it keeps the community strong. The shop owner and the employees spend their paychecks at other local businesses. They support local causes. That results in a vibrant neighborhood economy. When you shop local, there is a multiplying effect to its benefits.

Supporting local businesses also reduces environmental impact. In sourcing locally, there is less travel for you and the good. A lot of our goods are even made locally or from repurposed materials. How cool is that? You can feel good about shopping small.

The shop small movement began with Small Business Saturday in 2010 by American Express in an effort to support local businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. According to American Express, Small Business Saturday spending has reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day it began —that’s $103 billion over nine days, alone from 2010-2018. What started as a movement has become a way of life. You can support local more than just on Small Business Saturday.

Downtown Milford has a variety of shops, restaurants, and activities available. If you need fine art or clay jewelry, go to Gallery 37. Handmade tea cozies from Irish Rose pair perfectly with that cup of coffee from Dolce or My Sister’s Fault. Pop over to Blooming Boutique or Lady Maggie’s Boutique to check out the newest merchandise for women, Red Bandana for your comic needs, or Lifecycle for all things bikes! Don’t forget to go antiquing with Maggie or Rose.

That is just a snapshot of some of the options Milford has, but there is so much more. For a more complete list of businesses downtown, check out As you prepare for the holidays, my advice to you is to run, run, run like an antelope to our downtown and see what our local Milfordians have to offer.

Trish Gerken is executive director of Downtown Milford Inc.

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