Tuesday, March 30, 2010
10 Great Reasons to Support Local Businesses
I realize there's a slight irony to this since I sell online, but there are some really fantastic reasons to support locally owned businesses over large chain stores. While the price tags may be a touch higher at your local boutique compared to someplace that touts "low everyday prices" ala Wal-Mart, the actual price of shopping in such places can be rather high, especially in the long-term. I won't go into an anti-WalMart rant (I am VERY against shopping there...for more info. on why, check out the documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices"), but I thought that this list (taken from the book "Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season" by Jennifer Basye Sander and Peter Sander) sums it up very nicely. Their numbers are based on data from Chicago, but I'm sure that upon exploration, the same can be said of many communities.
"1) Keep money in the neighborhood. Studies show that Chicago-owned businesses circulate 70% more money back into the local community per square foot than chain stores."
"2) Embrace what makes us different." Shopping locally can help maintain a neighborhood's local character. Chicago is a great example of this. Each neighborhood has it's own distinct vibe, and local business capture that beautifully.
"3) Get better service." Frequenting a locally owned business can be a truly wonderful experience. It's more personal, and after a while, you build a meaningful business relationship with the owner(s)/employees. There's nothing quite like a big smile from someone behind the counter while they greet you by name.
"4) Create and keep good jobs. Nationally, local businesses are the largest employers and account for the majority of job growth." Locally owned business are less likely to outsource to another country. They have a vested interest in the community that they do business in, and oftentimes live in the very same community, or at least close by.
"5) Promote competition and diversity." Variety is the spice of life, and a bit of healthy competition can mean better products and service for customers.
"6) Less sprawl and environmental damage." A fair majority of locally owned businesses are in already existing buildings. For the small business owner, it's oftentimes more cost-effective to move into a place that is already built rather then clear land and build new. This is also great news for the local ecosystem since it means less disruption of the environment.
"7) Support community organizations. Nonprofits receive an average of 350 percent more support from local business groups then they do from non-locally owned businesses."
"8) Put your taxes to good use." Obviously, if a business exists in a community, then the taxes that business pays go back to the community. They also make much better use of public services in their area.
"9) Small changes mean big impact. An Austin, Texas study showed that if each household redirected just $100 of planned holiday spending from chain stores to locally owned merchants it would create some $10 million in local economic impact." The holidays are the biggest spending season, and what makes or breaks many businesses.
"10) Invest in the community." Again, local business people often live in the community they provide merchandise for, so they have an interest in the health of the community, especially economically. A good business person will support local efforts to improve the economy, as well as other important parts of their neighborhoods. It's just smart business.
I don't mean to knock shopping online in any way, but when choosing where to buy your goods (like groceries, etc), keep these things in mind. :)