What is your favorite thing about your community? Is it the friendliness of the people? The fact that you grew up there? The nostalgic feel of the little restaurant that a couple just opened up in an old building downtown? Or maybe the store that’s been owned by the same family for 15+ years and whenever you walk in you are greeted by your first name? Are there improvements you’d like to see happen in your community? Better roads or funding for schools? Nicer parks? Regardless of your answer, the fact is that you care about where you live. You want to see your neighborhood thrive as a safe and prosperous place. You want to see that the children in your area have a safe and pleasant place to grow-up before they make their debut into the world. You know you love your community and you want to support it in whatever way you can.
We’ve all heard the popular “Go Local”, “Shop Local”, “Buy Local”, mantras promoting the growth of local, independently owned businesses. But what difference does that really make? Isn’t shopping at those businesses about the same as shopping at national chains? Not anywhere close! It seems that according to studies, the impact is greater than what might be imagined, and the results over time can be better than we think- not just for the local business owners, but for us and our communities, too.
Did you know that when you spend money at a local business, more of your money actually stays in your community? Studies have revealed that $68 of every $100 spent at a local business stays in the local economy. In comparison, only $48 of $100 spent at a big-box store stays in the community.
That means when you buy from local, independently owned companies, restaurants and stores, you’re making a valuable contribution to your community. More of your tax dollars will go to your local government, which in turn will go toward supporting schools and local libraries and funding the safety of your neighborhood. Not only that, but you are supporting the existence of local jobs, helping your neighbors to provide for their families and encouraging the creation of new skilled jobs as entrepreneurs recognize a friendly attitude toward the development of new independent businesses.
In addition, locally owned businesses care more about you and the community you share than the big-box stores and corporations ever will. Research shows that a higher percentage of donations to local non-profits, events, and teams are made by locally owned companies. That’s because the owners of these small businesses live in your neighborhood, walk on your streets, have kids in the same schools, and, as a result, they care just as much as you do about the things that are important in your community.
When you shop locally, not only will you find that you’re benefiting your community by keeping your local economy stimulated, you’ll also find that the service perks you receive are better than going to the box-stores. Local businesses typically hire people who already grasp a firm understanding of the products that they are selling. And, when they are unable to find people with prior expertise, they tend to offer better hands-on training to give their employees a knowledgebase that you won’t find with an average associate at a chain store. Another advantage is that employees of local businesses tend to take a greater pride in their work because they feel they are part of something meaningful to the community. Because of that, they will also be more intentional to get to know customers, which means you get better, more personalized service.
Sometimes making a difference in your community is simpler than you think. It often starts with small steps that eventually make a huge impact. All we have to do is realize the ability we have and know what those little things are that we can do to either make or break our communities.
Now, more than ever, our communities and the local businesses in them need our support to survive. Let’s help out by shopping local and show love to the community we’re in.