The return on every dollar spent at a Morris business is significant.

Most studies show that for every $1 spent locally the return is $3 to $8, said Bruce Nustad of the Minnesota Retailers Association.

The $1 turns into wages paid to employees and income to business owners who in turn, by goods and services in the local community and those businesses turn the dollar over yet again.

Nustad said various studies on the impact of shopping locally indicate that 25 to 80 percent of the money spent locally stays local. Some studies record 25 percent while others are as high as 80 percent, he said.

Greater Mankato Growth did a 2009 study on the economic impact of increasing local buying in Blue Earth and Nicollet Counties. Kelly Asche of the Center for Small Towns on the University of Minnesota, Morris campus, said the study has applications to Morris because of it was the only study closest to Morris and Stevens County.

The study concluded that "local purchases will increase total output (sales) in the economy by more than just the initial 5 percent. When demand increases in one industry, the effects are felt across all industries and institutions."

The Blue Earth/Nicollet study also shows for every $1 in initial increase in output total output will increase by 40 cents to $1.40. That .40 cent impact comes because of labor, increase in demand for goods and service and related factors.

The bottom line is, shopping local benefits the community, Nustad said.

Businesses on Atlantic Avenue in Morris said they know the impact of local support.

"It's extremely important," said Riley Moulton, the manager of Someplace Safe Thrift Store. "We wouldn't be here if we didn't have local support. Our livelihood depends on it. We have nine people on the payroll."

The Christmas shopping season is important, said Kathy Bouta of Eul's Hardware Hank.

"It's a lot bigger than regular (sales season)," Eul said. The store buys additional inventory of Christmas lights and decorations.

"You have to have good sales to pay for (extra inventory)," Bouta said.

The hardware store also carries other items purchased for gifts.

"We see more traffic (this season)," Bouta said. "I don't know if it's all local. We see more people from surrounding towns. Lots of little towns around here don't have hardware stores."

"It's huge," Bonnie Koehntop said of the impact of local shoppers. Koehntop owns B Inspired, a gift store in March. "Without local people, I can't be here," she said.

The community has been supportive since she opened March 1.

(The response) has exceeded anything I expected," Koehntop said. "I needed that because I took a leap of faith (to open the store)."

Teresa Grant owns the 2nd Chance consignment store. The Christmas shopping season does not have a big impact on her store but local shopping does.

"It's important to keep businesses in town," Grant said.

Atlantic Avenue took a hit when one drug store left and another relocated to a new facility.

"I'm thankful two new businesses opened up," Grant said of B Inspired and Just Us Boutique.

More businesses on Atlantic Avenue draws more shoppers to every business, Grant said.

Nustad said a mix of businesses from mom and pop businesses to larger national retailers is healthy in a community.

"You need a good balance," Nustad said. The Minnesota Retailers Association represents mom and pop businesses as well as large national retailers, Nustad said. The goal is to have Minnesota shoppers shop in Minnesota and in their local communities, he said.

Dollars spent at regional stores and national stores also circulate through the local economy, Nustad said.

The impact can last long after the Christmas season or any purchase is made.

The Blue Earth/Nicollet County study shows that a 5 percent change in local spending by households, would boost the regional economy by $50.7 million, employment by 515 and labor income by $13.8 million.

Local stores may be competing with larger stores outside of the region and state but also with online shopping.

The National Retail Federation completed a specific holiday shopping study that shows half of consumers plan to shop online but yet still go to a store, Nustad said.

"That's phenomenal," Nustad said.

Locally-owned businesses can find a niche online, Nustad said. Yet, online shopping is still competition.

"Our message is to shop in your community," Nustad said. While the association wants consumers to shop in Minnesota, it's important to shop local in a community, he said.