Keep it local

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 63 views 

Everyone is familiar with Black Friday as we giggle at the previews of Power Buys and Door Busters and set multiple alarms to get up at grave yard hours to begin our holidays. Next, the advent of Cyber Monday thrilled those less enthused about holiday shopping with the ability to fulfill Santa lists online. Now there is Small Business Saturday sandwiched between the days of power shopping.

American Express, a company well known to be supportive of entrepreneurship efforts, has begun to promote the birth of a new way to shop for the holidays. The Saturday after Thanksgiving has become Small Business Saturday, but I believe more effort is needed by all of us to support our local businesses every day.

While big box stores offer exciting deals, popular products and a well crafted brand experience for shoppers year round, our local small businesses can offer unique products, better customer service and a return in your community for the dollars you spend with the small business.

However, most people don’t think about economics when they shop, so here are 10 additional reasons to shop locally courtesy of Local First Chicago:

Keep the money in the neighborhood.
Locally owned businesses put 70% or more money back into the local community. Imagine what we could do locally if we just spent as much time supporting and growing small businesses as we do debating the merits of government.

Embrace what makes the community different.
Local businesses add character, diversity and uniqueness into the community. Chain stores homogenize our communities, stripping the community of its character and identity.

Get better service.
In a local business, you know the person behind the counter and they know you. They have a deeper understanding of the products they’re selling and they take the time to service their customers.

Create and keep good jobs.
Small businesses are the job creators and have been for the past 12 years or more. Shopping at your local small business also means you are helping them create new jobs in your community. These are jobs that will not be outsourced to another country.

Promote competition and diversity.
A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based on the needs of their local customers and not on a national sales plan, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

Help out the environment.
Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation, and they generally set up shop in commercial corridors rather than developing on the fringe. This means less sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.

Support community groups.
Nonprofits receive an average of 350% more support from local business owners than they do from non-locally owned businesses. Now there is a true return-on-investment for getting your oil changed from IFC Auto on 6th Street rather than Auto Express for Fort Smith non-profits.

Put your taxes to good use.
Local businesses in our communities need less infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.

Vote with your dollars.
Studies show that if households redirected $50 of their monthly planned spending from chain/national businesses to local businesses, the impact on the local community would exceed $25 million dollars or more in a town the size of Fort Smith. Now that beats a 1% tax increase any day.

Invest in the community.
Local businesses are owned by your neighbors, who have invested in the community to make it a better place. By investing in them, you are making your community a better place one purchase at a time.

Stockman can be reached at
[email protected]