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It pays to shop locally and your Chamber of Commerce is making a point to show you that!

Although it seems it was just yesterday we were counting down the days to the end of the school year, the beginning of a new school year is just one short week away. If there are children in your life, you are already dealing with back-to-school issues. Some children will have outgrown their clothes or at least last year’s styles. In any event, they will need back-to-school items like pencils, backpacks, tissues, hand sanitizer, stylish new fashions and all manner of things.

Hopefully, you’re going to pick up as many of those things as you can this weekend, during the Donalsonville-Seminole County Chamber of Commerce’s Back-to School sales tax purchase refund days – this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The state of Georgia may have cancelled its annual Back-To-School Sales Tax Free holidays, but that doesn’t matter this year here in Seminole County, Georgia. From the time Seminole County merchants open on Friday until they close on Sunday night, July 27, 28 and 29 the Donalsonville-Seminole County Chamber of Commerce will give you a refund for every penny you spend in sales tax purchasing qualified back-to-school supplies, clothing and accessories. The only requirements are the purchases have to be made from a Seminole County merchant this Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Whatever you are going to spend, whether it’s a lot or a little, all I ask you to remember is to Shop Local – because this year it pays to do so. Just take your receipt to the chamber of commerce office and you will receive a sales tax refund on all qualified back-to-school purchases.

The back-to-school shopping season is in full swing and soon the holiday shopping season will have arrived, and as we navigate through this stressful time of shopping, let’s make a serious effort to start and finish our shopping right here at home.

You already know why it’s important to do your shopping near where you live, but we’ll just point out a couple of reasons. The purchases you make at locally owned stores are investments in your community. You are supporting your neighbors and your friends.

Dollars spent out of town are gone forever, while dollars spent at home are recirculated to the benefit of our community. Property taxes from local businesses are essential for tax financing of our schools and other government services.

Local businesses support and finance local causes, programs and projects. Their owners and employees, our friends and our neighbors, work for our PTOs, service and civic clubs and community organizations.

In short, local buying is the primary way we can improve the economy and the social infrastructure that serves our community. When supported by local residents, businesses can draw buyers from other communities, partially offsetting the outflow of dollars when local people shop elsewhere.

A strong shop-at-home mentality can translate into better prices and selections in local stores and a strong economy serving everyone.

We can curtail costly, inconvenient trips out of town; we can use the Internet for research, then take those results to a trusted local business that knows who we are and carries our preferred products.

Small, locally owned businesses are a vital life force for our community. Supporting them is in our best interest, during the back-to-school shopping season, the holiday shopping season and year-round.

We should have a bias for buying locally-produced goods and services from locally-owned businesses that keep their profits at home. That isn’t always possible, of course, but understanding that concept leads to an increased effort to do so.

Let’s make spending choices that show we care about our local businesses; choices that encourage our local businesses to keep plugging away, to keep hiring and to keep contributing to our hometown’s success. When we care about our neighbors and their businesses and turn that caring into action, the benefits will come back to us in ways we can’t even imagine.

 Get out there and enjoy the waning days of Summer, and remember your local chamber of commerce is giving a 7% savings incentive to give local retailers some love this weekend.

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