Columnist James Clements
December 3, 2012
It's that time of year again, time for me to grumble about how my least favorite part of the holidays is the shopping and how each year I swear I'm going to save myself the hassle and headache and find a way to buy all the gifts I need for everyone on my list without going to the mall.
Ironically, I continue to grumble even though I discovered the solution to my dilemma years ago. My holiday shopping philosophy is simple: "If I can't get it in Culpeper, they don't need it."
Of course, this mantra also applies to the rest of the year, but it's seems especially important during the Holidays. The shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the biggest of the year for retailers with estimates of 25 percent or more of annual sales occurring during this time (in some cases, without the holidays there wouldn't be a store at all). Our local merchants are no exception to this math; they would certainly appreciate you looking to them first to find that "perfect" gift.
Beyond avoiding the traffic and crowds, there is another substantial incentive to shopping locally — every one of your local Christmas dollars contributes directly to making our community and schools better. That’s been the message behind the “Be A Culpeper Local” campaign (online at www.BeACulpeperLocal.com) for the past few years.
According to the campaign, of the 5 cents the state collects in sales tax, 1 cent is returned to the locality you spent it in, and about another 1 cent goes to their schools. The campaign asks county households to consider diverting $50 a week back into Culpeper stores, and we could raise $1 million a year. During the holiday season, $100 of your Christmas budget (including meals and gas), would generate almost $50,000. That's a lot of bread, and all you have to do is stay in the county to buy your bread.
When we look at what we spend on a shopping trip to Barracks Road or Tyson's Corner, it’s no wonder the big box counties always seem to offer better amenities to their residents — they’re using our money and tax dollars to pay for them!
I invite you to join me this year in crossing of the names from your list with items you can find right here in Culpeper.
Whether you're shopping at local merchants or even at the big boxes, why not do it here instead of driving to someone else's Target or Kohl's? Spending those same dollars locally is like giving another gift — to our community and schools — without any extra effort. (I should also mention that while Internet deals and convenience may be too good to pass up, online shopping also takes tax dollars away from the local community.)
The one knock you often hear about local shopping is about not being able to find parking right in front of the stores. But if you think about how many miles you put on your car driving so far out of the way, and on your feet walking around a mall, it’s actually less stressful to park within a few blocks of Davis and Main Street shops.
Consider the ultimate destination of your tax dollars this season, and you might decide to give a gift to your community and schools while saving yourself a lot of hassle.
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Who is a Culpeper Local?
Well, there are approximately 47,000 of us who have chosen to make Culpeper County our home. We live, play, work, eat, shop and go to school here. Those of us who own a home or car, pay Culpeper County and/or Town property taxes. Those of us who have businesses pay Culpeper County and/or Town business license fees and taxes.
But there is one tax we all pay that does not always come back to Culpeper. Did you know that of the 5% Virginia State sales tax collected, (5 cents on the dollar), one cent is returned to the county in which it was collected? And approximately another penny is returned to that county’s school system?
What does that mean to Culpeper?
This fiscal year, 2011–12, the County General Fund expects to receive $4,600,000, The Town Fund expects $975,000, and the School Fund expects $6,935,854. All these millions are from us spending our dollars in Culpeper County!
We would like to increase those millions by inviting every Culpeper resident to think about where they spend their money. Many of us commute out of Culpeper and tend to spend in other communities, perhaps for convenience or variety. But next time, think about the sales tax you are depositing in some other county’s general fund and school system. It may be a little inconvenient, and you may not be able to find everything you need in Culpeper, but if each of our 22,000 households diverted $50 a week to Culpeper, we could potentially generate an extra $1,000,000.
This Be A Culpeper Local web site intends to give you reasons to shop here.
The site is sponsored by Culpeper Renaissance (CRI) and advertising merchants who hope to entice you each and every day to put your money where your house is ©. Check out who's a local and see what is planned for you by participating Culpeper businesses.