Thursday, July 5, 2012

Check out the local scene

My husband works for his father at the family business in town. He has always been adamant about shopping at local businesses and supporting the local economy and really pushes that with anyone he comes in contact with. I was not the local shopper type when I met him and found this a little annoying. “Seriously, you’re telling me I have to go to 4 different places for my groceries and other things I need?”, I would say. His argument is that the lifeline of the community is the local business. Over the years, I have come to love the local businesses and make it a point to shop there, even if it costs more, and even if I have to go to several different places for the things I need.

But, why? Why would anyone do this if super center big-box stores have everything you need in one place? Or you could shop online and not have to go anywhere at all. I decided to do a little digging and find out what this local lifeline is and if it really makes a difference.

As it turns out, if you shop at a locally owned and operated business, much more of your dollar spent stays in the community. Even a chain store that is locally operated doesn’t provide the same benefit. Check out this image below from an Andersonville West Michigan study.

They found that when you spend $100 at a local business 58% more money on average stays in your community compared to a chain store. Check out the whole report here:

West Michigan isn’t the only area catching on to this huge economic impact of local businesses. San Francisco, Austin TX, Portland Maine, and many others have all performed similar studies on the economic impacts to their local economies by supporting local businesses. In fact, SCF Arizona, a locally owner 55 employee company, is supporting local businesses by making a policy to buy their goods and services locally. A study on that company found that they are indirectly supporting 3,573 jobs and $538 million in total output in Arizona! ( )

It’s also the local businesses that contribute much more often and in greater number to the non-profit groups and other fundraising in the community. Just pay attention to the sponsors for the next events in your town and see for yourself. After all, local businesses have vested interests in the future of the communities they operate in.

This is not to say there isn’t a place for the big-box stores. There certainly is and you can’t buy everything local can you? But still, shopping at a chain store that is physically in your town helps your local economy more than shopping online. And better yet- it helps to reduce your carbon footprint.   

So I guess m husband has been right all along! Wow, I hope he doesn’t read this to see me say that in writing! So was it just me, or are there many of you who had also never realized the huge impact you can have shopping local?

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