People sing the "The Twelve Days of Christmas" this time of year, but in 2019 let’s try “Twelve reasons to shop locally at Christmas” instead.

There are hundreds of reasons, big and small, specific and broad, why residents should shop locally before going online or traveling to a destination mall, but we’ll keep it to an even dozen as we invite you to consider how you benefit yourself, your neighbors and your community when you buy goods sold and made close to home.

The traditional song starts counting on Christmas Day and extends through Jan. 5 or the Twelfth Night. Our version starts today and, if you “sing” along, you’ll have your shopping done early and have a good week left over to relax before Dec. 25 is here.

On the first day of shopping, my hometown gave to me …

A treat for under the tree.

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Some of the best sweets for Christmas -- chocolates and caramels and baked goods -- are crafted right here. Purchase a selection and create a custom gift for a person you love or a coworker you appreciate. They will enjoy it all the more for the unique local touch.

On the second day of shopping, my hometown gave to me …

Two times the fun.

Local businesses, according to chamber of commerce statistics, are proportionately more generous in supporting local charities, schools and community events than non-local businesses are. When you support local retailers, you make it easier for them to be generous. In essence, when you shop locally for a Christmas gift, you're giving twice.

On the third day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

three leading industries.

The United States’s 2018 Small Business Profile found that small businesses added 1.9 million net new jobs during the latest year studied. The estimated 30.2 million small businesses in the United States employ 47.5 percent of the private workforce. The top three sectors for small business employment in the United States can all be found here: health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, and retail ... and we’re back to that shopping local.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

four calling friends.

Local businesses survive by their reputation and thrive with repeat business. That means you're likely to get a higher standard of service than at some big store where you are just a number.

You share your great experience, then the four people you tell -- colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances and friends -- decide to check it out and call again and again.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

five economic rings.

Shopping locally preserves services as well as retail shops, the local grocery, coffee shops and bookstores.

Private and public sector services tend to cluster around shops. When shops disappear, so do banks, salons, etc. When businesses flourish, so do service providers.

Those services, of course, bring needed foot traffic to retailers, and the golden circle continues.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

six shops a-laying.

Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure and more efficiently utilize public services relative to chain stores. That’s according to several economic studies. Water, sewer, sidewalks and roads already exist downtown, so local businesses quickly can start laying those economy stimulating dollars for the community when we patronize them.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

seven trees worth trimming.

Have you seen some of the quality items that the local church group, high school art class and crafting clubs have made to decorate your home for Christmas? These purchases qualify as shopping local, too.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

eight made from milking.

Those of us in the Hiawatha Valley either live in the Dairy State or next to it. You can’t get more local than consuming dairy produced at farms on both sides of the river.

Artisan cheeses galore, world-famous curds, eggnogs, yogurt, butter, custard, ice cream and pure milk -- all are put to special use this time of year, whether in your home kitchen or one of our fine restaurants.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

nine and more thriving.

Nine to five, six and seven days a week, independent shops support living-wage jobs for people that include time for work-life balance.

You can shop with a clearer conscience when you buy close to home, where you are less likely to purchase mass-produced goods that were made in some Third World sweatshop.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

ten shoppers leaping.

Shopping locally can have you jumping for joy. First, you can save money when you shop at home. These businesses offer affordable prices. Skip the shipping charges. Save the gasoline. When you subtract the travel, fees and your time, the cost of shopping locally is lower than you might realize.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

eleven cheers and toasting.

We are justifiably proud of the town we call home. Raise a glass of locally made wine, beer or cider to celebrate.

Shopping locally, dining locally and staying locally helps our communities retain their distinctiveness.

Our independent and locally owned shops create special shopping experiences. Sometimes we take for granted why so many tourists enjoy coming here. We’re blessed.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

Twelve drumming up business.

Shopping locally powers a community's economic cycle 12 months a year.

Businesses and manufacturers create employment. When workers spend money here, economic stability results, which then encourages self-employment and entrepreneurship. Enterprise leads to more businesses and manufacturing, and the community grows.

Come on, sing it:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my hometown gave to me …

Twelve drumming up business,

eleven cheers and toasting,

ten shoppers leaping,

Nine and more thriving,

eight made from milking,

seven trees worth trimming,

six shops a-laying,

five economic rings,

four calling friends,

three leading industries,

two times the fun,

and a treat for under the tree.