Harvard encourages staff, students, and faculty to shop local this holiday season. “In these hard economic times, it’s really important to support the businesses that people cherish in the Square,” said Denise Jillson, HSBA executive director.

File photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Harvard encourages ‘shop local’

3 min read

The University celebrates local merchants this season

Harvard University is encouraging staff, faculty, and students to “shop local” this holiday season and support locally owned, small businesses near work and in their home communities.

“Local businesses make Harvard Square a vibrant destination for Harvard’s staff, faculty, and students as well as visitors from around the world,” said President Drew Faust, who frequents shops in the Square and in nearby Huron Village. “The Harvard community’s support of these businesses and others throughout Boston and Cambridge can have a significant economic impact on neighborhoods and help to preserve their distinctive character.”

For three years, Harvard has sponsored a shop local campaign to encourage the campus community, especially Harvard staff and faculty, to patronize local businesses.

According to the Harvard Square Business Association (HSBA), local merchants rely on people who work and study in the area for approximately 40 percent of their business. In Harvard Square, where nearly 80 percent of the 300 businesses are locally owned or independent, the holiday shopping season carries a major financial impact.

“In these hard economic times, it’s really important to support the businesses that people cherish in the Square,” said Denise Jillson, HSBA executive director. “We have so many of them and they’re such an important part of our community.”

Locally owned businesses are peppered throughout the neighborhoods of Cambridge and Allston. In addition to Harvard Square, shops on Massachusetts Avenue, Porter Square, Central Square, and the Allston Village Main Streets all offer unique ideas.

“Small business is the backbone of America; if you want to support the economy, we need to support our local businesses,” said Alana Olsen, executive director of the Allston Village Main Streets.

“Harvard is home to 37,000 staff, students, and faculty members — a focus on shopping in our neighborhood communities could have a profound local impact this holiday season. What a gift that would be,” said Christine Heenan, vice president of Harvard Public Affairs & Communications.

While local retailers benefit from sales, shoppers also benefit from the distinct, festive spirit each neighborhood offers during the holiday season and the personal attention that visitors get at neighborhood shops.

“People will find the experience of shopping locally more enjoyable. You’re going to get a personal touch wherever you go. It’s a way to really connect to your community,” added Olsen.

Check your local shopping areas for events during the final holiday shopping days.

In Harvard Square, activities range from ice skating at the Charles Hotel to the holiday craft fair at First Parish Cambridge on Church Street to special Sparklefest events. For more ideas and destinations, visit the website.

Learn more about the 19 shopping districts that are part of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Boston Mainstreets Program.