Buy — and give — locally

Gift items, food and wine made right here contribute to the valley's prosperity

If you're still looking for that special Christmas gift — or, more likely, gifts in the plural — give a thought to the wide range of high-quality products, art work, food and wine made right here in the Rogue Valley. Buying locally not only supports local producers, it gives the local economy a boost as well.

Studies conducted by the consulting firm Civic Economics in Salt Lake City and elsewhere concluded that locally owned, independent retailers and restaurants returned larger percentages of customers' dollars to the local economy than national chains. In a 2011 study in Portland, Maine, the firm calculated that $100 spent at locally owned businesses contributed $58 to the local economy, while $100 spent at national chains contributed $33.

The difference is that local businesses rely more on local labor, buy local products for resale and purchase services from local providers.

Buying local products directly from the producers can have the same effect.

We've published a number of features in the Mail Tribune's business section highlighting consumer products made and sold in the Rogue Valley. A recent example featured an Eagle Point couple who took the courageous step of opening a shop on Black Friday specializing in Alpaca yarn and gift items. Their venture, an offshoot of raising Alpacas on their ranch, is open only for the Christmas season, set to close after Saturday. But there are plenty of other opportunities to buy locally all year long.

Other products featured in the stories included the Lotus Sun Hat, made in Talent and available in a variety of local outdoor recreation retailers, and the LoopRope, developed by a local entrepreneur to replace bungee cords and other tie-downs, also available at numerous local retailers.

If food is more to your gift-giving taste, don't overlook the Butte Creek Mill in Eagle Point, makers of stone-ground flours and pancake mixes.

The Rogue Valley's burgeoning wine industry produces high-quality, award-winning vintages, with new producers entering the market regularly. Dozens of wineries now dot the region, and their wines are available in their own tasting rooms or in local wine shops.

Another local producer that has garnered worldwide recognition is the Rogue Creamery in Central Point, makers of fine gourmet cheeses that have won international awards.

Besides food, wine and consumer products, numerous local artisans turn out high-quality weaving, woodworking, pottery and blown glass.

This year, give gifts that evoke the Rogue Valley — and help sustain the local economy at the same time.

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