Thanks to those who "shifted" during the holidays!

During Buy Local Month, we asked you to shift your holiday spending to support local businesses. It is estimated that American holiday spending in 2012 surpassed $450 billion, and shifting just a small percentage of that spending to local businesses would have a huge impact in supporting local jobs, directing tax dollars towards city and state services, and improving communities.

To sweeten the deal, we offered the chance to win a slew of prizes for those of you that emailed testimonials describing how you "shifted" this holiday season. We had a tremendous response, so thanks to those of you who shared your holiday spending stories with us!

We had many inspiring responses that we wanted to share with you, and have posted some of those here. Unfortunately there wasn't room to post them all, but these individuals went above and beyond the call to make their holidays local. See what they had to say:

"I'm excited because my first holiday gifts of the season were actually a few different local items that I purchased at the Junk in the Trunk vintage market back in September. My favorite things I got were two scarves from BeeBeeBaubles - now I'm kicking myself wishing I bought more so I could have one left over for myself!" -- Ashley M.

"I decided to not go to the mall to buy the majority of gifts this year and buy local. I try to support locally owned restaurants and stores all year long. I bought gifts this year from Seeds for Autism, locally owned comic book stores such as All About Comics, Queen Creek Olive Mill and Practical Art. I attended Phoestivus and purchased a great buckwheat pillow and eye pad from The Pillow Company, located in Scottsdale... Using yarn from Tempe Yarn and Fiber and Family Arts, I made knitted gifts for friends and family. When our guests arrive this week, I plan to take them to locally owned restaurants such as King Gyros, Fez, Vivomeena and Cornish Pasty. It’s easier than one might think to make this shift. As the New Year unfolds, I plan to expand my knowledge of all things local and promote the businesses to all my friends. It’s great fun and promoting and keeping these businesses alive gives our town a neighborhood feel and helps the economy. You get a good feeling knowing that you have supported the hard work of local business owners." -- Teri B.

"My wife and I moved hear a little more than a year ago and since then whenever we buy gifts, especially for our families back home we always get them something special from around here.  It's especially good in the winter months when they are cold and we can rub in just how beautiful it is here and that they should come out this way!" -- Jonathan S.

"This will be my second year shifting the majority of my holiday spending to local stores. My husband and father-in-law always ask for books, which used to mean trips to Barnes and Noble or ordering online from Amazon. Now, I only buy books from Changing Hands (and I can find great stocking-stuffers while I'm there!). I have also starting making small food baskets as gifts, buying from the Gilbert, Mesa, and Ahwatukee Farmer's Market vendors - Made by Bees honey, Decio pasta, and Remington Deaf Ranch jelly." -- Melissa B.

"This year rather than supporting the big chain stores, I am trying to buy gift certificates for my friends for things like pedicures, dining out (not at a chain restaurant), and small craft items from WHEAT Fair Exchange. I like the idea that more of my money stays in the state and helps support my friends and neighbors and helps to keep people employed. I even searched out the Arizona wines section of the big box liquor store." -- Jill P.

Thanks to everyone who participated in Buy Local Month and our Holiday Shift Contest! We hope that you will continue your local buying habits into the new year.