Congrats to the winners of the Shop Vashon Passport — they know who they are by now — and a big thanks to many islanders who took the effort to shop local during the holiday season. Our hope is that you will continue that effort for the upcoming slow season and support the local businesses that make Vashon special.
Supporting island-based businesses pays off in more ways than winning a drawing. A study from the American Independent Business Alliance found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the local community, while only $43 of each $100 did when spent at a chain retailer. On Vashon, this is going to be higher because of the uniqueness of our geography and the commitment that our business community has in supporting the island community.
Many of the things that people love about Vashon are due to the care, time and effort of local businesses. Most of the time, it is in creating a space where we, as a community, can congregate, shop, display art, play music, work out or get our nails done. During the holidays, businesses step it up. We recently witnessed an amazing WinterFest. Businesses took the time to line their storefronts with garland and set up activities before and after the tree lighting ceremony. Many local businesses and organizations worked together to create a festive feel during the holiday open house with hot cocoa, roasted chestnuts, cider, and more.
Look in the window of VARSA and you will see a giant check that represents a donation from a local business. Almost every Vashon storefront displays a thank-you from an island nonprofit. These tokens of thanks represent a small percentage of the support our island nonprofits receive from local businesses.
What you don’t hear is the weekly asks businesses get and how they respond with generosity. What is less obvious are the contributions of non-storefront based businesses — such as contractors — and the construction company that loans out equipment and services for community events; the internet company that provides gifts for island kids’ activities; the artisan who volunteers time towards the care of the candy canes; or the tech guru who serves as a volunteer bartender at fundraising events. I also doubt that any other community gets as much support as Vashon does from our real estate brokers — look at any sponsor list from any nonprofit and you will see them represented. It is clear that all our local businesses take time and effort to care for our island community.
As we celebrate the year and move into 2020, please join us in taking the time to thank the business community for all the work they do making our island home a great place to live. Thank them by supporting them during the slow season of the winter months. Other island communities and small towns have businesses that cater to the summer season and are closed during the offseason. We are lucky that many of our businesses stay open during the winter so that we can enjoy them. They are your friends and neighbors as well and this gives you a chance to see for yourself how committed they are to the Vashon community. Support Vashon businesses all year so they will be around to support us.
Jim Marsh is the executive director of the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce.