Buying Local for a Stronger Community and Economy

With the holidays upon us we reflect on what we’re thankful for; prosperity, good health, good friends and family. It’s also the time when many of us start our holiday shopping and head to the malls or to our Internet devices. After all that shopping we may meet up with family and friends at a restaurant or bar. What if we shopped, dined and drank at locally owned businesses instead of national chains?

Falling in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday™ started in the town of Roslindale, Massachusetts, on November 27, 2010 to encourage holiday shoppers to buy from small, local retailers. Small Business Saturday™ is trademarked by American Express and is now championed by small businesses and elected officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2014 over $14 billion was spent at small independent businesses on that day, and in 2015 over 95 million Americans participated in Small Business Saturday™.

While these are great statistics for one day, what are the benefits to small businesses, their customers and the communities they serve the other 364 days of the year? Several independent studies have shown that the “multiplier effect” of spending money at locally owned retailers returns three times more money to the local economy versus spending at national chains. When compared to online retailers it’s a multiple of 50 times more going to the local economy. Dining at locally owned restaurants versus chains returns twice the money.

Small retail and restaurant owners often support other locally owned small businesses by purchasing products and services needed to run the business. This includes accounting, technology and printing services, office supplies and equipment and food. Locally owned businesses often pay higher wages compared to big-box retailers thus strengthening the local economy and reducing government assistance. When there is a critical mass of local businesses in a city or county, it’s an even bigger boost to the local economy.

Since many locally owned businesses locate in residential areas, customers can walk, bike or drive fewer miles to get there, creating less traffic and pollution versus driving to the big-box retailers or the malls. Locally owned retailers often carry locally produced products, thus boosting the “maker economy” in their communities. Restaurants often source from local farms where food tastes better than if it’s shipped across the country.

Other reasons to Shop Small include higher overall customer satisfaction, more knowledgeable staff and more community involvement – including making donations to local charities. As you shop and dine this holiday season think about your community and supporting the local store and restaurant owners, employees and producers that make it a more prosperous place to live, work and play.