The weekend is upon us!
Do you plan to go out shopping in the next few days, maybe to pick up a gift for an upcoming wedding, to buy something you’ve been needing for your home, or just to browse for fun and see what new merchandise your favorite stores might have in? If you do, you’re not alone. The gorgeous weather and slew of present-worth events that happen in the summer encourage people to get out into their communities and shop for both necessity and pleasure. But have you ever considered that where you shop is just as important as what you buy?
Most of us have a range of retail options near where we live — from a tiny mom-and-pop storefront to a mega-huge big box chain superstore. Some necessities may be hard to find in more than one place, but many purchases provide us with an opportunity to support our communities by buying local.
Why is buying local important? Read this list before you grab your wallet and keys this weekend!
- Public benefits and costs. If you look at the graphic above, you can see how much less retail space a typical small business requires than a large chain superstore. As a rule, local stores require much less infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services like water, sewage, power, and real estate than big box stores and strip malls. What this boils down to is local stores making better use of your tax dollars.
- Jobs and wages. In most places, locally owned businesses pay their employees more competitive wages and provide better benefits than chain stores. And local businesses have a stake in the jobs they create; they are far less likely to up and decide to open a location in another town, leaving local citizens jobless and the municipal government lacking in tax revenue.
- Community well-being. Locally owned businesses build strong communities by employing local people, contributing to local causes, and getting to know their customers as neighbors. The leaders of these businesses also make business decisions while keeping in mind that they will feel the impact of those decisions, here, where they live.
- Keeping dollars in the local economy. As we previously discussed when we described our involvement in the 3/50 Project, spending money with a local retailer returns more money to our community than shopping at a chain store. Shopping locally means investing in community development — roads, police department salaries, garbage collection, and a myriad other public services get a boost from dollars spent with local small businesses.
- Entrepreneurship. Small business fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, while serving as the key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class. Supporting local business means, in a very real way, supporting the American Dream.
- Environmental Sustainability. Local stores generate much less waste than national chains, generally speaking. Also, storefront shops create vibrant, compact, pedestrian-friendly town centers, which cut down on urban sprawl and pollution.
- Competition. A marketplace with an array of small businesses in competition is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over time. If everyone shops at the same mega-store and the small local businesses go under, soon we will all be forced to buy only whatever those megastores are selling, at whatever price they choose to charge.
- Product diversity. On that same note, local businesses select their product offerings based on their own local interests, and those of their customers/neighbors. Therefore, they provide a broader range of product choices, while still being much more in tune with the needs and desires of the community they belong to.
- There is no place like here. Shopping locally protects local character and prosperity. When you buy from locally-owned small businesses, you help to retain those aspects of local flavor and pride that make your community what it is. And if you’re giving a gift, you’re giving someone a true piece of home, unique to the region you live in, with a special care and thoughtfulness that chain stores just can’t mass-produce.
If you want to know more about the community impact of local businesses vs. big box chain stores, we suggest you check out The Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the 3/50 Project.
We would like to thank The Institute for Local Self-Reliance for the facts and information in this list.