Give a gift to your community: Shop local
By MICHAEL CALDWELL
Shopping “local” is the gift that keeps on giving.
Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. With the holiday season also comes the shopping season, as we scramble to find those perfect presents for all the loved ones on our lists.
Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. The focus is squarely on consumers and getting them to spend their hard-earned dollars.
An almost overwhelming obsession with spending has become the modern trend, and that is OK. But it is important to think about where and how you are going to buy those magical presents to go under the tree.
These decisions are far more important than just rushing out to grab something to check a box off the list.
Every year, The Advocate-Messenger tries to drive home the benefits of supporting our small businesses. Shopping with small, independent businesses is an investment in our communities and makes the places we call home a better place to live in virtually all measures of quality of life.
Don’t take my word for it. Data compiled by the Independent We Stand organization tells a compelling story.
- Small businesses accounted for 65% of all net new jobs over the past 17 years.
- Small businesses employ 77 million Americans.
- Residential neighborhoods served by a successful independent business district gained, on average, 50% more in home values than their citywide markets.
- Independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales than chain competitors. Independent restaurants return more than two times as much money per dollar of sales than national restaurant chains.
- If independent businesses regained their 1990 market shares, it would create 200,000 new small businesses, generate nearly $300 billion in revenues and employ more than 1.6 million American workers.
- If just half the U.S. employed population spent $50 each month at locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.
- For every square foot a local firm occupies, the local economy gains $179 vs. $105 for a chain store.
As I have shared in the past, here are 10 positive benefits Independent We Stand attributes to shopping local:
- More of your money will be kept in your local economy: For every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $67 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community.
- You embrace what makes your community unique : You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s in the U.S. Why would you want your community to look that way?
- You create local jobs : Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for your neighbors. When you shop locally, you help create jobs for teachers, firemen, police officers, and many other essential professions.
- You help the environment : Buying from a locally owned business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging.
- You nurture community : Local business owners know you, and you know them. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains.
- You conserve your tax dollars: Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance and more money available to beautify your community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong — in your community!
- You create more choice : Locally owned businesses pick the items and products they sell based on what they know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wider array of unique products because they buy for their own individual markets.
- You take advantage of their expertise : You are their friends and neighbors, and locally owned businesses have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. They’re passionate about what they do. Why not take advantage of it?
- You invest in entrepreneurship : Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community.
- You make your community a destination: The more interesting and unique our community is, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone.
Research shows that almost nine out of 10 consumers agree shopping local makes a significant positive impact on the local economy. Yet a far smaller percentage practice what they preach.
Will you be able to find everything on your Christmas list at small or independent businesses? Probably not. But making a commitment to do more is the first step.
Shopping local is a gift to our community — one that will keep giving all year long.
Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Advocate-Messenger and Danville Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 469-6400 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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