We’ve heard from a few businesses in the Ballard area over the last few weeks, and they’ve said sales are particularly difficult. Don Willis Furniture, which has stores in Ballard, Lake City and Tacoma, told the Business Journal that sales are down 30 percent. “In September, when the market went to heck, our business went to heck,” said Willis, who had to lay off three employees. So now that the holiday shopping season is officially underway, here’s our reminder to please buy in Ballard — even if it costs a little bit more than the big discount chains. Your investment will pay dividends for the neighborhood.