It cannot be over-stated that shopping locally is one of the best ways to preserve and enrich cities, towns and rural areas.
According to one study, for every $100 spent at locally owned businesses, $73 will stay in the local area whereas shopping at national chain stores results in only $43 staying local.
There are many other reasons:
- Thriving local businesses, with the help of dedicated local customers, create jobs – and often higher-paying jobs. As the local economy stays strong, it helps support jobs for teachers, firefighters, police officers and countless other professions.
- Shopping locally, rather than online, ensures sales taxes are reinvested where they belong – right back home.
- Local business people and local customers get to know one another very well over a period of time. That means local stores can locate, display and sell specialized items that customers want.
- Local businesses and local charming shops often offer items that are unique to a particular city. Good examples are arts-and-crafts shops and farmers’ markets. Such local endeavors not only promote socialization among neighbors and newcomers but lend a unique and colorful identity to cities.
- Buying locally is environmentally friendly – less infrastructure, less fuel used for transportation, less packaging.
- Local businesses supported by local customers tend to donate generously to so many local causes – more than twice that of corporate chain stores on average.
- Shopping local is a spur to local creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation, all because of imaginative business starters being aware of local needs and wants.
- Local business people and customers most always work together to resolve any issues about product quality and customer satisfaction.
- Unlike commonly held assumptions, prices at locally owned businesses are sometimes less expensive than those at big-box stores.
- In an increasingly mobile, electronic and often “faceless” society, many people are craving to become more sociable in public places. Anyone who doubts that should visit the next local farmers’ market where conversation, sociability and fun predominate, often among total strangers. Local businesses constantly promote, directly or indirectly, that sense of downhome “belonging.”
- People who think and shop locally strengthen the social bonds within cities and parts of cities. Doing so greatly enhances identity, cohesion, safety and all the great services and agencies that make for strong, dynamic cities.
We have all driven through those terribly sad-sack towns that withered and then died or are on some kind of life-support because of lack of local patronizing of businesses: stores shuttered, buildings rotting, desolate places that resemble ghost towns. Sad sites, indeed.
We can continue to thrive but only if we think local, act local and – yes – shop local. The best way to do that is to visit local businesses, see what they have to offer, chat with the owners and buy merchandise from them. Most shoppers, we are convinced, would be astonished by the benefits of shopping locally, for them and for everyone else who cares about living in a thriving, exciting city.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.