(Wyoming News Service) Wyoming shoppers choosing to buy gifts at local mom-and-pop stores this holiday season can sample cookies with Mrs. Claus and refuel at Santa's Saloon, and kids can send letters to the jolly old elf via Pony Express riders.
Trey Sherwood, executive director of the Laramie Main Street Alliance, acknowledged most of the money shoppers spend at corporate chains ends up out of state, but when people buy local, they support their neighbors, and 68 cents of every dollar stays in the community.
"And it turns into payroll for local jobs, and it turns into support for our little-league teams," Sherwood outlined. "Because small businesses are often the sponsors for our youth sports."
Historic downtown Laramie, founded as a railroad town, is celebrating small businesses all week, capping off with a holiday parade. Instead of a traditional tree, officials will light up the city's historic train.
In addition to Santa, the "Old West Holiday" in downtown Cheyenne also features lights and decorations on architecture dating back to Wyoming's territorial days. Many buildings are listed in the National Historic Register.
Haylee Chenchar, vice president of the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority, said small businesses have turned downtown into a festive winter wonderland.
"Everyone who comes to downtown, they will not only get to do their holiday shopping and support local businesses, but they really get a one-of-a-kind holiday experience that can't be replicated anywhere else," Chenchar explained.
Sherwood pointed out folks also can support most local businesses, and avoid big-box store supply-chain logjams, from the comfort of your sofa.
"Supporting local through online, you can sit in your pajamas at home and know that you are still making an investment in your downtown by shopping local, not having to worry about it being shipped late," Chenchar concluded.