YOUR VIEWS | A Holiday Season Wish for Alexandria Businesses

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To the editor:

Its that time of year again, and the holiday shopping season frenzy has nearly begun. True, most of us have less money now to spend in making this years celebrations special for our families and friends. But that fact probably wont deter us from spending more than we want to! The amount you are planning to spend though is not nearly as important as where you plan to spend it. We at the Chamber of Commerce ask you to consider keeping your money here in Alexandria by purchasing from your local retail and restaurant establishments. 

Its a winning investment to Buy Alexandria not just for the business owner, but for you as a resident. Supporting local businesses, large and small, is in our best interest because they are critical to maintaining a socially, environmentally and financially sustainable economy.   

Its imperative that we attract businesses to Alexandria and keep supporting them because they benefit our community.  We are blessed to live in a city of unique neighborhoods such as Old Town and Del Ray, which offer interesting shopping and dining experiences and house creative, innovative businesses. These qualities benefit the residents and are what attracts tourism an industry Alexandria is extremely dependent on for financial success.  

Dont think we have a problem retaining businesses? Just take a walk along King Street and note the increasing number of dark, vacant store fronts from the Metro on down to the waterfront. Our West End shopping centers are also suffering and shutting their doors. With these continuing, challenging economic times, it is vital for local businesses to have a strong holiday season to survive into 2010 and beyond.   

Its also better for our environment to shop locally. Consider that you will simply save time and money by not driving all around the Beltway. Sitting in traffic and burning up fuel (while fueling your stress level) also keeps you away from spending quality time with your friends and family.   

Finally, it just makes good financial sense for us to shop here. The bottom line is that buying here keeps tax dollars here and that should be a top priority for residents. These dollars help build our schools and provide public services we expect and require to function as a city. Many funds for services we count on are currently on the chopping block for the FY2011 city budget.  

Consider how the fabric of our city will become frayed by the loss of local shopping options, not to mention the further loss of commercial tax revenue. We are already skewed too far into reliance on residential real estate property taxes; thats a situation everyone wants to change! The more we expand our commercial tax base by supporting our businesses, the more likely we are to fund more public services and to see some residential property tax relief.   

Whats more exciting is that there is a ripple effect that occurs when you buy from local businesses. You are not only supporting that individual business, but you also in turn allow that business owner to continue to use other local businesses for supporting services they need such as architects, contractors, accountants, lawyers, ad agencies and insurance brokers to name a few. This effect allows us to keep our families and friends employed here, which again further expands our commercial tax base. 

Your local businesses need your support. We at the Chamber hope that Alexandrians will spend their limited disposable income wisely during this holiday season and beyond. It is the right choice for the community, the environment and the financial health of our city to Buy Alexandria!

– Tina Leone
President and CEO of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce

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