This Valentine’s Day, “Love Local Upper Valley”: Show love for your sweetie and your whole community by purchasing gifts (or gift-making supplies) and meals (or ingredients) at businesses rooted in the Upper Valley. Last year, despite the pandemic, Americans spent $21.8 billion on Valentine’s Day. Imagine if we shifted some of that spending to locally owned businesses, many of which are struggling after two years of pandemic economic disruption, supply chain challenges, and staffing woes?
Locally owned Upper Valley businesses offer us much to love. They strengthen our local economy, culture, and wellbeing. Independent businesses re-circulate three times more money in our community than national chain stores, while non-local e-commerce shifts most of your money out of our regional economy. Moreover, studies show that small businesses create most new jobs — meaning today’s local Valentines are tomorrow’s jobs.
Last year’s National Retail Federation survey found that 24 percent of Americans planned to celebrate with a special evening out (the lowest in the survey’s history). Instead, 41 percent planned to hold that special meal at home. Also, no surprise, online stores were the top place to shop for gifts. But online can still be local: Most Upper Valley businesses offer curbside pick-up, online purchasing options, or other safe ways to choose local.
Independent businesses strengthen the fabric of our communities and many are struggling. Let’s give them a big hug by choosing local this month! Here are some ways to show your local love this Valentine’s Day:
- Order take-out from your favorite Upper Valley restaurant or get it delivered by UVER (Upper Valley Eateries and Retail).
- Don’t forget to shop for your special four-legged family member.
- Give a gift that keeps giving when you buy a CSA or Farmshare from a local farm. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, meaning your purchase of a share now helps farmers invest in the future growing season and you get the freshest local produce during the growing season.
- Support our creative economy when you buy that something special from a local craftsperson or purchase tickets to a future performance.
- From now through February 14, post on Facebook or Instagram about your favorite local businesses and the Valentine treats they offer, using the hashtag #lovelocaluv, and be entered in a drawing for one of 30 free “Upper Valley To Go” restaurant coupon books from the Upper Valley Business Alliance! (Thanks, UVBA!) Through April, enjoy hundreds of dollars worth of discounts and specials for take-out (and a few dine-in options) at your favorite local eateries. You get an additional entry for each post, so the more you post, the more chances you have to win!
And now for some great news: Last year, for the FIRST TIME, small businesses made it to the top five Valentine’s shopping destinations in National Retail Federation’s survey. The local love spirit is growing! So continue to show lots of local love this Valentine’s Day. That love will circle back to you, your loved ones, and — best of all — your entire community.
Upper Valley businesses need our love, so keep your dollars where your heart is and eat, buy, and love local this Valentine’s Day!