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Throughout the year one of the most important decisions you can make is where to spend your shopping and dining dollars. Buying local is a conscious effort to make purchases within the City of Manassas. Where people do their day-to-day shopping for things like groceries and convenience items and where they go to lunch or dine in/takeout for dinner really matters. This includes such basic, everyday purchases as putting gas in your car at a station inside of the City. Many people may not be aware that a portion of the gas tax is used to pay for local transit services like PRTC (bus service) and the VRE. If you buy gas outside of Manassas, then the City loses that revenue and has to make up its contribution to these services from other sources like property taxes.

Shopping local is most frequently associated with specialty retail and restaurants because studies show that shopping with independent businesses returns three times more money to the local economy than when shopping with a chain store. However, many national chain locations are franchised to owners and operators who live in Manassas and who support the community through engagement with sports teams, civic leagues and churches. These franchise owners are small business people and their local impact on the economy is important too. By helping to keep independent businesses prosperous, shoppers help keep them open and contributing to the local economy in big ways.  If you prefer a chain store, please pick one in Manassas whenever possible.

In addition to real estate and other taxes that businesses pay, 1% of the state sales tax that is collected gets returned to the community. While that may not seem like much, last year the City received $8.2 million in local sales tax revenues. That money goes into the City’s General Fund, which pays for important services like public safety, public works and education. Meals taxes are another important source of revenue for the City and last year Manassas collected $4.2 million. So it’s easy to see how this all adds up and why spending your discretionary dollars at home is so important.

While the Internet makes buying items convenient and doesn’t require walking into a store, there are a few things to consider before clicking that check-out button. A look at one online retail giant shows that the business creates less than half as many jobs as local stores. The retailer also doesn’t pay business taxes and fees the way that local brick-and-mortar owners do. There are many choices you have when making a purchase, but where you choose to make that purchase is important. It does have an impact on the local economy and directly benefits your quality of life. So, this holiday season start making shopping local a habit and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.