Here are many reasons why people choose to buy from large chain stores or online retailers: Sometimes because there is more inventory to choose from, and other times, because the merchandise is less expensive. The 350 Project a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the word about local businesses, does not expect a person to only purchase goods and services at a local business. But they do emphasize how a little can go a long way, not only for the local business owner you support, but for the community as a whole. It is estimated that national chains return only 43 percent of their income to the local economy. Online retailers return zero percent.

What about local businesses? Local businesses return a whopping 68 percent of their income to the local economy. They pay taxes to the town they set up shop in, stimulating the economy and beautifying the neighborhood with their storefronts. And there are countless other ways local businesses end up benefiting the communities they serve, and the surrounding communities as well.

At Diamond Dream, we are passionate about supporting the charities that are important to us and our customers. This year, we hosted a fundraiser in support of the Newmark Schools, which serve children with autism spectrum disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, attention issues, and other developmental disabilities. With the support of many people like us and our customers, Newmark was able to build a beautiful new facility. As the old proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

But we know we are not alone, so we sat down with some other local Bernardsville and Mendham retailers to find out which causes matter to them and what they love about the community. Caesar Mistretta of J.M. Stringer Gallery of Fine Art loves the “wonderful array and variety of businesses” that Bernardsville has to offer, as well as the “friendly and caring residents”. Over the past twelve years, the gallery has put on a variety of quality art exhibits for the community to enjoy. The owners continue to support local charities and maintain a beautiful storefront, constantly changing windows, and maintaining planters and flowers. “By having quality, reliable local businesses who excel in service, as most in Bernardsville do, the result is that the community benefits not only by having great shopping options but also the businesses help to maintain the integrity of our neighborhood and real estate values,” Mistretta explains.

Carla Fabrizi of Carla Fabrizi Cosmetics in Mendham also believes that building relationships is one of the foremost benefits of local businesses. “Social interaction is something that has been lacking over the years,” Carla explains. “Our businesses present the opportunity for people in the community to connect and form life-long friendships,” she continues. Kathleen Janssen, Marketing Manager of Villa Enterprises Management, also in Mendham, agrees, “The benefits of building a relationship are endless.”

Carla enjoys providing a no-judgement zone for women to come in and learn about makeup, and often gives her time to women undergoing chemotherapy who want to learn makeup tricks to feel beautiful again. What, to her, is the best part of the local community? It is a long list, but her reasons include the specialty shops, unique restaurants, stunning natural beauty, and the people—friendly merchants, school teachers, and law enforcement officers. Villa Enterprises Management is constantly looking for opportunities to help local schools, local government and local volunteers. This year, they donated the proceeds from their annual charity event to the Seeing Eye Foundation.

Rich Steinberg, owner of the Bernardsville Print Center, has been a member of the Bernardsville community for twenty-five years. During that time, he has seen local businesses support a number of different causes and events. “Local businesses support non-profit organizations such as youth sports leagues, PTOs and school associations that supplement school budgets or fund programs that were dropped due to budget cuts,” he explains. In addition, local businesses donate their time and money by sponsoring local fundraising and awareness events, such as Unity Day, Taste of Bernardsville, and Sounds Around Town.

A member of the Board of Directors of the Bernardsville Chamber of Commerce, Rich himself has participated in supporting these causes and events while also donating his printing goods and services to multiple local organizations, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Somerset Hills Education Foundation, Somerset Hills and Basking Ridge Little Leagues, the Bernardsville Fire Company, Friends for a Greener Bernardsville, and the Bernardsville Garden Club. Last but not least, Rich has “been the human inside the Easter Bunny costume, giving out candy and taking pictures with the children of the community, for the past 10 years.”

Every day we feel fortunate to be a part of this community and neighborhood. We try to take care of our customers, knowing their names, their children, their likes and the dates and milestones they celebrate. We’re thrilled to be a part of those special moments.

Our customers and friends, they all know we’re more than just their jeweler; our door is always open, for a conversation, timely advice, or a glass of wine! And they are there to support us in return, buying us a new dish for our chocolate that matches our interior, inviting us to their weddings and special occasions, and becoming lifelong friends.

We strive to provide services that big, chain companies and online retailers are unable to provide. From custom design and jewelry and watch restoration to estate acquisition and appraisals to simply sizing rings. We help keep the community beautiful by maintaining our storefront, but that is nothing compared to the work of the Bernardsville Garden Club, which supplies and maintains all the beautiful plants in the common areas of our downtown. Local shops should always be your first stop. You might find a new friend, a new relationship, a new experience, or, at the very least, a new piece of chocolate!