You’ve heard this message many times, but it bears repeating. A dollar spent at a local business ricochets around the community much more powerfully than a dollar spent online. does not buy tickets to your kids’ school fundraiser. doesn’t buy tickets to your local Kiwanis or Rotary events. doesn’t sponsor a youth soccer team. Most of them don’t donate to your community food pantry.

Ray Holley mug

Ray Holley

Those are your local businesses that do that stuff. Those local businesses also remember which brand you like, remember your name without asking you to sign in and they employ your friends, neighbors and family.

In this confusing and scary time, it’s tempting to stay home and avoid shopping (except for food and booze), but lots of our local merchants have online and telephone shopping. They’re eager to help you shop safely, if shopping is on the menu, so please, give the locals a shot at capturing a few of your holiday bucks.

On a related topic, our small town downtowns are going all out to bring you a little love this year. Check out the holiday tree grove in Guerneville, the decorated trees and lights in the Sebastopol, Cloverdale, Healdsburg plazas, and the Charlie Brown tree grove on the Windsor Town Green.

Shops are decorating their windows as well, so go for a masked and socially distant stroll, look for sweet windows, art installations and other reasons to celebrate our communities and each other. Maybe you’ll spot something in a shop window that you can order the next day.

And, let’s take a moment to thank our locally-owned hardware stores and grocers, who work tirelessly and cheerfully to keep us fed and supported. In our little town, we patronize a hardware store and a lumber yard that trace their origins to the 19th century. A “simple” weekend project entails multiple trips to one or both; we couldn’t get through a honey-do project without them.

Ray Holley is wondering how many trips it will take to make that small roof gutter repair on his garage. He can be reached at

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