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Holiday sales support merchants and everyone they do business with

Mike Allen, owner of Toys for the Fun of It, 519 Main St., holds up two Perplexus maze balls, which he anticipates will be popular toys for both adults and children this holiday season.

11.24.11 GB shopping Toys

Mike Allen, owner of Toys for the Fun of It, 519 Main St., holds up two Perplexus maze balls, which he anticipates will be popular toys for both adults and children this holiday season.

How big is the holiday shopping season and how much does it matter to the Grand Valley’s local economy?

It may not seem vital if you work for an oilfield service company, but if you’re one of the 1,800 people employed at the various businesses at Mesa Mall, holiday shopping is vital. Likewise, if you’re one of the 125 permanent and seasonal employees at Enstrom Candies, 701 Colorado Ave., this month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is critical.

“More than 50 percent of all of our mail order and retail business happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Doug Simons with Enstrom.

Because Enstrom makes candy here and has its headquarters in Grand Junction, the dollars the company generate may float around the Grand Valley more than the dollars generated by a store with headquarters elsewhere.

Enstrom purchases its healthcare locally and uses a local marketing firm. The company also gets its printing done locally, owns three company vehicles which were purchased and serviced locally, and uses local companies for refrigeration, kitchen, electric, plumbing and construction needs.

“We try to buy as many supplies as we can from local suppliers,” Simons said.

Although Enstrom may represent the local end of the holiday shopping spectrum, purchasing holiday gifts from any local retailer benefits the Grand Valley economy in a multitude of unforeseen ways.

Sales and use tax, personal tax and property tax (if the retailer owns the property on which his or her store is located) generated by retailers goes to help pay for a huge variety of public services. From schools to road improvement, streetlights to libraries, public services and public employees couldn’t exist without someone paying tax to fund them. The holiday shopping season generates a huge amount of taxable revenue.

Big box stores are occasionally portrayed as soulless corporate giants that don’t benefit a local economy. In reality, these companies hire locally, advertise locally and most buy supplies locally. Many also support local charities and contribute to local causes.

“We have a food drive right now to benefit the Food Bank of the Rockies,” said Mark Sutton, retail events coordinator with Cabela’s, a large outfitter at Mesa Mall.

Although Cabela’s is headquartered elsewhere, sales dollars generated locally paid for a local VIP customer appreciation party, where a local band, the Jay Ketchem Band, entertained. Fisher’s Discount Liquor Barn, 2438 F Road, supplied adult beverages for the VIP party.

Thanks to holiday parties, special events and celebratory meals, the months of November and December are the busiest two months of the year at Fisher’s Liquor Barn.

“We’re the largest carrier of Colorado wines and spirits in the entire state,” said Joel Vanderhoofven, manager of the store. The purchase of a Colorado wine during the holiday season benefits the grape grower and winemaker, who may be Mesa County residents, since Mesa County produces a large amount of Colorado’s wine. Most liquor sales also trickle down to employees at Colorado Beverage and Central Distributing, two large distributors with local offices and employees.

Fisher’s Liquor Barn employs 25 people, four of whom are college students. In a roundabout way, purchasing a bottle of chocolate vodka at Fisher’s Liquor Barn may benefit the future healthcare in the Grand Valley, since three of the four college students are in the nursing program at Colorado Mesa University.

When you shop downtown, most of the stores are smaller, with fewer employees. Counting the owners, Toys for the Fun of It, 519 Main Street, only has five employees.

All five of them love the holiday season, since owner Mike Allen estimates that 45 percent of the store’s total sales are generated in November and December. Although Allen’s five employees are a drop in the bucket compared to the 1,800 employed by retailers at the mall, they, too, live and spend their dollars in Mesa County.

“When I make money, I spend it locally,” said Allen. “I buy food, I own a home, I go out to eat here.”

Fellow downtown merchants must love Allen, since he tries to eat breakfast at downtown restaurants at least twice per week.

Downtown merchants, as members of the Downtown Development Authority, paid for the recent Downtown Uplift project, which has been enjoyed by any Mesa County resident who’s wandered downtown in the last six months.

“A day doesn’t go by without a customer stopping by to say they love it,” said Peggy Page, owner of Page-Parsons Jewelers, 444 Main Street.

In addition to paying the salaries of its eight employees, Page-Parsons Jewelers has also done extensive renovation to its site, using local contractors for the work.

The company banks locally, hires a local accountant and uses a local computer service.

“Most of us buy lunch downtown every day,” said Page. “We buy our all our shoes downtown. We spend money here.”

Whether you buy from a big box store or a small specialty store, if you spend your holiday dollars locally, you’re doing your part for the local economy.

Thanks to your shopping dollars, local bands have more gigs, local restaurants see more customers and local computer geeks have more work.

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