There are a lot of factors that go into the decision of where you’ll spend your discretionary dollars when you shop—it could be location, selection of inventory, great prices or even how fast you can get in and out of the store to get your errand out of the way. How often, though, do you think about the economic impact your choice will have on the community? That’s just one of the benefits of shopping local, which can have a positive, wide-ranging ripple effect throughout your community. Even if you’re just buying something simple like a tube of toothpaste, when you buy locally it means much, much more. Here’s why shopping local is a good thing:
- It creates a thriving local economy.
According to the research site Civic Economics, $68 out of every $100 you spend at a local business stays within your community—that’s compared to $43 when you shop at larger corporate chains. That money is important as it can be funneled back into the community in different ways. Local entrepreneurs can invest their profits into growing their business, which can include hiring more local workers or opening a second location to serve more customers. Municipal governments can also benefit. For instance, California cities get a percentage of the state’s sales tax revenue when purchases are made at local businesses and that money can be put in a city’s discretionary fund. That money can then be used to pay for any number of projects, ranging from re-paving city streets to creating more recreation programs for kids. This is especially noteworthy because municipalities miss out on this sales tax revenue when shopping is done online.
- It spawns a unique community culture.
Drive along a street lined with outposts of national chains, and it’s hard to tell what part of the country you’re in, let alone what city. Local businesses provide community character and add to the vibe and spirit of a town. For instance, Grossmont Center, a mall in La Mesa, California, counts 66 independent businesses among its tenants and its owners say the center is a community hub. Customers come specifically to patronize the locally owned shops—where they can find unique goods often not available everywhere else—and these businesses participate in events that have made the mall a gathering spot for residents. This vibrancy makes a community attractive to locals and tourists alike. That attractiveness can raise property values and entice investors to create more opportunities for local businesspeople.
- It’s a reliable way to get personalized service.
At many local businesses, the owner is often at the store, manning the register or offering advice on a purchase or placing a specific order for a customer. When you regularly shop local, you can get to know these hard-working businesspeople and develop a relationship with them. Attentive entrepreneurs go above and beyond to please their customers and can often tailor their stock based on client feedback, or they may offer certain deals for loyal patrons—ensuring you’ll be a repeat customer.
- It grows a community of artisans.
Many local entrepreneurs show their commitment to the community not just with high-quality service, but in helping other locals—as they say, a rising tide raises all boats. Perhaps a local restaurateur decides to buy produce from a neighborhood farmer, or a boutique owner hosts a pop-up shop to showcase a local jewelry designer. That, in turn, enhances the local economy and gives a leg up to an entrepreneur—and maybe one day that jewelry designer will open her own store, thereby growing the economy even more. Supporting local artisans also enhances a community’s reputation as a unique destination to visit.
- It contributes to a more sustainable environment.
In this day and age, businesses that are easy on the planet, as well as your wallet, are worth patronizing. Local shops that carry products made by area vendors are cutting down on fossil fuels and wasteful packaging that can’t be recycled—you won’t see any semis that have driven cross-country to deliver stock to these stores. You’re also cutting down on emissions made by trucks that are delivering online purchases to your home.