As the shopping season gets underway, I want to remind you that you “vote” with your purchasing dollars.
Yes, I know. We need to be more circumspect and everyone agrees that this holiday period has become over-commercialized and too focused on consumer spending.
But let’s face it. Even the craftiest amongst us are probably going to buy some presents, for someone. So let me urge you, no, beg you – please support your local merchants and independent businesses and artists.
There are SO many good reasons to do this, including the fact that shopping from merchants in your hometown can help minimize your carbon footprint.
But not only does it support greener living, it can keep more green in your wallet!
Voting with Your Dollars
In an economic recovery that is still fragile, small businesses are often the first to suffer. But when you support locally owned businesses, you’re doing more than helping those nice folks who serve you. You’re giving back to your whole community.
For instance, locally owned businesses build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbors, and by contributing more to local causes.
Local ownership means that important decisions are made by people who live in the community (not the Waltons or Koch brothers in their privileged palaces), and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.
And local shops are more likely to support local providers – artists, small manufacturing, growers, and creators. For instance, local bookshops are absolutely vital to the success of new, untried authors and small press publishers.
Estimates say that about three times as much money stays in the local economy when you choose a locally owned business instead of a chain. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through sales taxes, invest in neighborhood improvement, and promote community development.
Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.
Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class. Local stores in our town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.
Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, livable town centers, which in turn, are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
Save Money, Help Mama Earth
This doesn’t make Internet shopping obsolete. In fact, according to one marketing research report, 6 out of 10 consumers do their product research online, then go make their purchase in a “bricks and mortar” shop. And supporting local artisans who share their work online makes sense, too.
But we can only ensure innovation, low prices, and new “green” priorities by supporting local businesses that offer the products and services we value.
Small businesses select products based on the needs and interests of their local customers. They are able to offer a broader, and often higher quality of merchandise that their customers actually want, unhampered by some multinational conglomerate’s ROI strategy.
So this holiday season, get off the beaten track, and avoid the sprawling mediocre sameness. Find the local artisans, shops, and independent entrepreneurs in your area. You’ll have more fun, you’re more likely to find those really unique goodies that your loved ones will treasure, and you’ll be doing a world of good for your community, too.
Every little bit makes a world of difference.