Herb Philipson's has been a staple in Central New York for 67 years. That's nearly a lifetime. Now the outdoor retailer is for sale, and we have only ourselves to blame.

When explaining the reasons behind the decision to put the family-owned store up for sale, the company President, Gary Philipson said: “the retail environment has changed over the past few years as more and more customers are choosing to shop online and traffic coming to our stores continues to decline.”

No one can deny the convenience of shopping in your pajamas at 3 am, but the cost is great - not just for the individual businesses - but for the community as a whole. Stores like Philipson's employ our neighbors, contribute to our tax base and participate in our community. Herb Philipson's has been part of a coat drive right here in the Mohawk Valley for decades. Remember when Amazon.com did that?

Me neither. 

Ultimately, we control where we spend our dollars. We decide whether local businesses like Herb Philipson's survive. Right now, let's all hope that Philipson's finds a buyer as committed to the community as the Philipsons have been. In the meantime, when you choose where to spend your money - choose to spend it at a local retailer, restaurant, or small business. Every dollar matters.

If we stay in our jammies, or choose to shop exclusively at big-box stores, in the not-too-distant future, that will be our only choice. We can't lament the lack of local shopping options and then spend our money online. #shoplocal is more than a hashtag, it's a choice that helps shape the community in which we live. Choose wisely.

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