The concept of independent business and shopping local is not a new one, in fact, it used to be the only way to shop. But as the world has become more global, so has consumerism.
There is a popular quote by an unknown author, “When you buy from a small business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, a mom put food on the table, a dad pay a mortgage or a student to pay for college.” Sure, you will help a business owner in need, that’s just the beginning when it comes to supporting local independents.
Independent businesses bring far greater economic returns back into the local community. For every dollar spent at a local business, approximately half of that is recirculated into the local community. Comparatively, a national chain contributes only 10-30% of those dollars back into their local economy. A study done in Salt Lake City, UT found that the local retailers return a total of 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy, compared to just 14 percent for the national chains.1 As a local printer, plumber, doctor, restaurant owner, etc., consider where your retail dollars are going, and how they could be reinvested in your business.
Main-street or multi-use areas in which most independent businesses are found contribute significantly more than their big-box counterparts in property taxes.2 Big-box stores are a net drain on municipal resources, whereas the main-street stores come out net-positive, paying more for property taxes and using less municipal services for their businesses to be set up and maintained.
There’s a reduced environmental impact when you shop local. Locally owned businesses buy and sell more local goods, reducing the need for long haul or air freighted goods. Most independent businesses are situated in an urban area, not on the outskirts of town like your typical big box or chain store making them more readily accessible by walking, biking or public transport.2
Investment in their community. Owners invested in their local business are less likely to leave a community and therefore more invested in its future. Small businesses give far more back to their community. It’s been shown that on average, non-profit organizations receive substantially more support from small businesses than their larger counterparts.
These businesses hire local talent from the community. The knowledge a new employee will gain from working in that close-knit training environment is much greater than that of a big box store. As a result, the quality and level of service you receive is higher due to the vested interest in you and your community. As a consumer, you are not just a number, but a person with a name, a member of the community.
The quality of product you’ll purchase at an independent shop is, more often than not, better than what is bought at a big-box store. Brands often reserve the best quality and top of the line products for the business owners that give these products a proper introduction and servicing. If you do spend slightly more, you can rest assured that you are getting a better quality product. You may also have the opportunity to purchase a unique product or more importantly, a product more relevant to you, as you are part of the specific community that product was chosen for. Giving your community character.
If sending a child to college, or helping to pay the mortgage isn’t enough incentive to shop local, maybe the fiscal impact on the local economy, investment in the community or quality of service and product you’ll receive is enough to convince you otherwise. Put your money where your feet are and shop local.
1.“Indie Impact Study Series: Salt Lake City, Utah” [PDF]. Civic Economics, Aug. 2012.
2.“Understanding the Fiscal Impacts of Land Use in Ohio” [PDF]. Randall Gross, Development Economics, August 2004.
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