By Catherine Cunningham

Last summer, I visited Block Island for the first time. For those of you who know Block Island, you are familiar with how small it is. That being said, there isn’t too much to see.

During my visit, I found a sign outside one of the coffee shops that read, “For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community. Shop local!”

As a frequent shopper, there is nothing more pleasing than knowing that a majority of the money I am spending at this local coffee shop is getting put right back into the community.

A lot like Block Island, Newport, RI is only so big…Our vibrant City by the Sea is filled with hundreds of locally owned restaurants, bakeries, retail stores, bars, and much more.

Here are a few reasons why shopping local is in your best interest this holiday season:

1. Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

2. You support schools, police and fire departments. When you shop small, the bulk of the money you spend and most of your taxes stay local — helping schools, paving streets, keeping you safe.

3. Shape your character. Independent businesses help give your community its distinct personality.

4. Give back to your community! Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local non-profits, events, and teams compared to big businesses.

5. Reduce environmental impact. Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.

So, when you’re shopping this holiday season, think of your community and SHOP LOCAL!