Aside from a short and non-recommendable stint in Salt Lake City, I’ve spent my entire life living in small towns. I love the look. The feel. The vibe. Having a short commute. Being on a first-name basis with at least half of the people you see. Getting involved with local politics and organizations. And you can always tell that the other locals love it, too; they pour their heart and soul into it. Whether it’s a volunteer group pulling off a fun event, a shop owner putting in a special order, or an artist painting their favorite downtown scene, they love it here, and they want everyone else to feel the same.
This genial aura that surrounds Saranac Lake is only made possible by the warm and ambitious population. Every business owner and employee is passionate about their position (as proven by the eager staff at Goody Goody’s, where I cannot seem to leave without having been persuaded to test at least 2 new games). There are no “big box” stores, but there is certainly no lack of shops. From outdoor equipment to local groceries to...rocks - Saranac Lake has a store for that. Recently I needed a slightly unusual craft supply and it wasn’t in stock at the Village Mercantile but the second staff realized they didn’t have it in stock, they added it to their next shipment order and I had it faster, cheaper, and safer than the alternative: scheduling a time to drive to a big store, spending an unwanted amount of time in the car, exposing myself to more people than necessary during a global pandemic, searching for the item in question, driving home, buying gas.
While it may not seem as convenient as stepping into a giant warehouse that sells lemons next to fishing bait, supporting small, local shops keeps this affable community running. And supporting local helps the community in more ways than just “keeping the stores open!” Studies have shown that local businesses recirculate a greater share of every dollar as they create locally-owned supply chains and invest in their employees, and if you want to talk numbers - the US Small Business Association reports that for every $100 you spend at a local business, $68 will stay in the community.
So this holiday shopping season, see how many purchases you can acquire locally! A lot of businesses are getting creative with their offerings: curbside pick-up, family meals, delivery. One new way you can help support local this season is to check out the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s 36th Annual Sparkle Village, which has gone virtual thanks to the help and support of the Village Mercantile. Throughout the month of December, you can find locally made gifts from a wide range of Saranac Lake shops on their e-commerce website villagemerc.com.
So when you're looking for gifts this holiday season, whether you're a local or a visitor, #SupportLocalSL and #ShopADK!