Wilton residents are encouraged to shop local
During the holiday season, there is one important way people can help community businesses — shop local.
The Wilton Chamber of Commerce is spreading the word about the importance of patronizing local businesses which are threatened by giant online retailers and out-of-town malls.
“Shopping local is good for Wilton’s economy,” said Debra Hanson, the Chamber’s executive director. “For every $100 spent at a local business in Wilton, $68 stays in the community,” she said, according to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics. Information from American Express shows a similar effect.
A survey Hanson quoted showed that of the approximately 17,000 people who live in Wilton if 4,000 (less than 25 percent) of them spent $10 more a month shopping locally, they would increase yearly sales by $480,000.
The Chamber is using the tagline “Shop Local” on social media and newsletters where it is also starting a series of business profiles. “We are trying to emphasize how important it is for the community to shop local,” Hanson said.
The Chamber is also trying to get the word out that an important part of what makes Wilton a vibrant community are its local businesses, which provide services, food and dining options, recreational opportunities, home-care products, gifts, and many more things integral in day-to-day lives.
“Locally-owned businesses have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. They are passionate about what they do,” said Hanson.
Tom Sato, owner of Wilton Hardware at 21 River Road, believes Wilton residents are very good about supporting local businesses like his. But, he said, even his store is not immune to the effects of online retail giant Amazon, where prices can undercut local retailers.
“Online companies just ship out packages, compared to a business that pays rent in a local community,” he said. “Online companies also don’t offer service and assistance to their customers, which local businesses do.”
When people pop in to Wilton Hardware, they may be surprised to see new products on hand. Keeping up with the latest in technology, the store sells more than standard tools and gardening equipment. It also carries a variety of cordless drills, saws, and blowers. “The trend out there is ‘everything cordless’ so we have those things,” he said.
The store also has a variety of LED lights, with some bulbs featuring a speaker in them, and flashlights, which Sato said, are brighter than ever.
Sato has operated Wilton Hardware since 2012. Before that, there had been a hardware store in Wilton for many years before it eventually closed.
The holiday season is busy for Signature Style, which specializes in the personalization and customization of a wide variety of clothing and gift items.
The colorful store is at 72 Old Ridgefield Road, and has been owned locally since 2010.
“I think people really try and want to support local businesses,” said co-owner Janet Siegel.
In return, local businesses support the Wilton community, she said.
“Local businesses provide job opportunities, their employees patronize restaurants and other local businesses, and they assist local nonprofits and sports programs by donating items for their raffles and events. We support others, so money flows back into the community,” she said.
Unlike online retailers, Siegel said, businesses like hers also provide an opportunity for people to mingle and see each other. “It gives a sense of community,” she said.
Siegel said she is looking forward to Wilton’s annual Holiday Stroll on Dec. 6, which starts at 5:30 p.m. on the Town Green. At that time, the public is invited to stroll down the streets in Wilton Center and enjoy the hospitality of stores and restaurants.
To learn more about Wilton’s Shop Local initiative, visit wiltonchamber.com.