It’s not just a nice notion to buy from local businesses, it actually pays to shop local. According to the Retail Merchants Association, for every $1 spent at a big box store only $.15 stays in the community, while $.45 of the same dollar spent at an independent merchant is reinvested locally. This not only results in a heartier local economy and job creation, shopping small also bolsters community involvement and support for nonprofits.
Ben Schiller, Managing Editor at CoinDesk points out: “The extra dollars in the local economy produce more jobs for residents, extra tax revenues for local governments, more investment in commercial and residential districts, and enhanced support for local nonprofits. In short, independent businesses create better places.”
As consumers our actions matter now more than ever; below are eight key benefits of patronizing our local businesses:
BOOST OUR LOCAL ECONOMY: Buying locally enables us to invest directly into our local economy, we help to preserve existing local jobs, create new skilled jobs and increase the prosperity of the people around us. When we buy from small independent businesses, the salaries, the revenue, and the profit are more likely to stay local instead of going to a distant corporation. Studies show that when we buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than from a nationally owned chain, a significantly greater portion of our money is then used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms — further strengthening the economic base of our entire community.
SUSTAINABILITY: Buying locally increases our knowledge of available resources, builds trust and positivity, opens minds and hearts, and makes us more independent as a community. While we focus on the positive, we live in a world where disasters happen– having a strong and sustainable local infrastructure and food network is crucial. A more connected community is safer, more resilient and self-reliant in times of uncertainty.
RESPONSIBLY GREEN: Buying locally significantly reduces the carbon footprint of acquiring goods. Items produced and sold locally require less shipping, which reduces the need for fuel, packaging, warehousing, refrigeration, and other carbon-intensive services. Why buy food that travels thousands of “food miles” when we can buy fresh, local produce here?
STRENGTHEN OUR COMMUNITY: Buying locally demonstrates community pride. By patronizing a local hardware store instead of a big box alternative, we contribute to helping a local business to stay in business. One-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinct character of our community.
YOUR VOICE IS HEARD: Buying locally shrinks the distance between producer and consumer creating a direct seller><buyer feedback loop. Both parties can keep tabs on quality and when buyers make special requests or offer suggestions, sellers learn how to better serve their customers. Though large retailers may advertise a wide selection, the variety of what they market is decided by a small group of corporate buyers. Real choice comes from dozens of independent businesses tailoring their goods and services to the unique needs, tastes, and interests of their communities.
BETTER SERVICE: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers and provide more personalized service. Plus, we get to see the familiar faces of our neighbors each time we visit!
NETWORK BUILDING: Buying locally provides opportunities to connect and interact with others who live and work around us. In doing so, we expand our own community sphere. (Notably, in 2020 most local merchants have developed contact-free purchase options, including online ordering, take-out, curbside pick-up, etc. to safely serve customers while protect staff.)
SUPPORT NON-PROFITS: Independent businesses donate more per sales dollar to local non-profits and are the most ardent supporters of parks, libraries, events, and the great area amenities that make our community unique.
By making conscious decisions to support local merchants, food growers and service providers, we are embracing our local economies and empowering our cities, our neighbors and ourselves to grow and thrive. Our actions matter now more than ever. As you plan your next purchase, ask yourself if you can find what you’re seeking at a locally owned establishment rather than online or at a major chain. Now that we know the powerful impact our buying habits can make in our community, let’s vote with our wallets and challenge others to do the same!