Haines has what most small towns on the road system have lost to chains or the Internet – family-owned stores, from hardware and building supplies like ours, to groceries and galleries owned by families you can name. We even have an independent bookstore and independently owned newspaper. This is rare, wonderful and worth fiercely holding onto.

This big, old wheel of a small-town economy that begins with your purchase ends with merchants contributing to sales and property tax to make our community better, and to fundraisers for everything from sports teams and arts and cultural organizations to civic groups and individual medical expenses.

Preserving this economy is easy. It doesn’t cost you any more than you already spend. All you need to do is shop mindfully, to “think Haines first” as the Haines Chamber of Commerce campaign says, before you buy. Think of shopping locally the same way you do recycling, eating local food, supporting the farmers market and conserving energy. Local merchants are an essential component of a sustainable community.

All you have to do to support them is make a conscious effort to try hometown stores before you shop on-line or outside. We all buy things we like out of town, but every dollar you do spend locally multiplies at least three-fold throughout the community. If we all make half the purchases we would anyway right here, Haines will prosper, and there will more money to go around for all the things about it we hold dear.

                                                                     Heather Lende