Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne lists some of the reasons it’s good to buy at a local store instead of online.

I saw a thread this past weekend on Facebook from someone who was complaining about how quickly the Christmas holidays were coming and how they had not gotten any of their Christmas shopping done and how grateful they were for the internet and Amazon, especially Amazon Prime, since they could put their order in online and have it arrive two days later fully gift wrapped.  Following the post was a thread of some thirty replies chiming in with how other people had put off Christmas shopping and were so happy to have an Amazon Prime account so they could get presents at less than MSRP, within 2 days and gift wrapped to boot.  Not one person said anything , "Oh I went out and got all my shopping done at my local stores, where I could deal with actual people and, by the way, help my community as well."

Just how does shopping at your Friendly Local Games Store (or any other local retailer) help your local community?  Three reasons (I can think of more but these are the three that come to mind immediately):

 Jobs.  Roughly 15 million people, or about 5% of the entire US population works in some aspect of retailing.  Granted, it is not a glamorous job or an especially well paid job, though the average retail worker makes just over $18 an hour, according to statistics from the federal government, works just over 30 hours a week and earns about $2,160 per month, before taxes, or about $26,000 per year.  Certainly not great and that level of pay is a major factor in the high employee turnover rate in retail as last time I checked it hit right at about 300%, meaning the average retailer has to fill a position 3 times a year.  Still, retail does provide jobs in the community, jobs that go away if people opt to shop elsewhere.  After all, for most people their first employment is in some form of retailing.

Sales Taxes.  States and cities with a sales tax rely heavily rely on them to fund services for the residents of that city and state.  Most online retailers still do not collect sales tax (technically the consumer is supposed to remit sales tax to the state and city, your annual tax forms usually have a place for you to pay the state any sales tax not collected by a retailer.  Needless to say, most people do not fill in that blank.  The State of Illinois made a concentrated effort to collect unpaid sales taxes through the income tax form several years back and barely recouped enough to cover the expense of collecting it).  Sales (and property) taxes help fund the services your city and state governments provide such as police, fire, street and sewers, services for the poor and homeless, etc.  Fewer taxes mean fewer services provided.

Your Money Stays Local.  Shopping at a locally owned store means the money stays in the community, helping to generate those jobs I mentioned above and allowing other businesses to use those dollars to expand and enhance their offerings.  Making a purchase at a locally owned store puts approximately 70% of that money back into the community. Even making a purchase at a chain store puts about 45% of your expenditure back into your city.  Buying online puts nothing back into your city.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and remember to shop at your local FLGS (or other local business).

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of