Every day, we’re faced with choices — buy from Home Depot or the guy that owns the hardware store in the Village? Get a cup of coffee at Starbucks or go to the local restaurant?
Buy from a local clothing store or from Marshall’s? In these difficult economic times, to me it makes sense to shop, buy and dine at our local businesses. Buying local strengthens our local economy, can help lower taxes, creates jobs, supports local nonprofits and can serve to help clean up the environment.
With the world economy spiraling dangerously into a crisis, it really is tempting to simply visit the national chain store for our needs and take advantage of what look to be lower prices. But, in the long run, the money saved at Marshall’s or Target may cost us far more in than the immediate gains.
The American Independent Business Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes communities through strong local economies, lists the following 10 reasons to spend your money at local businesses:
- Buying local supports you and your family — When you buy from an independent locally-owned business, significantly more of your buying dollar stays in the community and is used to make purchases from other local businesses.
- When you buy from local businesses, you’re supporting local nonprofits — Studies show that small business owners give an average of 250 percent more dollars in donations to local nonprofits than do large businesses.
- Buying local keeps your community unique — Where we shop, where we eat and have fun all makes our community home. Local businesses give a distinctive character to a place and add to quality of life.
- Reduce your environmental impact — Local businesses buy more from local suppliers, resulting in less wasted fossil fuel for deliveries from distant sources. And by shopping in the Village you’ll contribute less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution. Walking instead of driving to a store also saves you money.
- Local business creates more good jobs — Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and the jobs they offer create stronger links to our communities. Would you rather see your son or daughter work at a local store where they might get valuable personal employer referrals, or at an impersonal national chain store checkout counter?
- When you buy local, you invest in community — Local businesses are owned by your neighbors, people who live in your town, and who are more invested in the community’s future. Local businesses provide very important community allies in tough economic times.
- Better service — Local businesses usually hire people with a better knowledge of what they sell and they try to get to know their customers better. Also, a local business owner usually will respond to your complaints more quickly.
- Buying local puts your taxes to good use — Local businesses require little public infrastructure investment, as compared to nationally-owned chains built at the edge of town with taxpayer money for improved roads, water and sewer service.
- You can buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy—A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on the needs and requests of local customers, assures a buyer-friendly range of product choices.
- Buying local encourages local prosperity— Economic research shows that entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive hometown character.
So, yes, I buy local whenever possible. I may pay a little more for some things and occasionally be frustrated with inconvenient hours or unavailable items. But it’s important to me to support the businesses in my community. I enjoy running into my neighbors when I shop local and I especially like the fact that I know the owner of a business or restaurant and call him by his first name. It’s worth it to me to pay a little more and help out my neighborhood businesses, especially in these trying times.