Shopping local for the holidays

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The Athens Holiday Bazaar was this past weekend, and it encouraged the community to shop local for the holidays.

The annual Holiday Bazaar featured over 40 local vendors selling a variety of products, such as soaps, knitted goods, pottery, and woodworking.

Opal Grueser used to be a vendor, but this year she came to the Bazaar to shop. “The money stays in our community and it expands and grows,” she said. “[The money] goes through the community and helps all businesses.”

The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce has a campaign called “Take It Home for the Holidays,” where members of the community are encouraged to buy holiday gifts from local businesses. The Chamber of Commerce says for every 100 dollars spent locally, 48 dollars remain in the community.

Soapmaker Space Welch feels Athens is unique in its support of small businesses. “There’s just something really special about a community that just looks for ways to support one another. I mean I think that there’s very few communities like Athens County.”

Athens is a hub for small businesses, with hundreds in the area. As a former small business owner, Grueser knows how important shopping small is and feels buying local is often better than buying things online.

“You can find more unique things here,” she said. “It’s handcrafted, it’s local. It’s just more unique and has more personality.”

While large retailers like Amazon won’t be going away any time soon, it’s clear small businesses have a place here in Athens County.