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Why Shop Local?

The term “shop local” has become a familiar phrase with a feel-good connotation, but it wasn’t until recently that I started to understand the true impact of shopping local. While the support of smaller businesses and lessened environmental impacts are great incentives, they can feel amorphous, especially in the looming convenience of big box retailers. The appeal of shopping local comes into sharper focus when we break it down to a more personal level. Local businesses stand out in the ways they nourish the communities around them, and as a result directly impact you as a customer.

One of the biggest ways shopping local benefits you as a consumer is that the money you spend at a local business stays closer to home. When you spend locally, 70-80% of that money is retained by the local economy, vs 30-40% spent at larger chains. As you spend at one business, you provide the necessary resources for them to spend at other small businesses. This means that each dollar you spend has more potential to support a thriving economic ecosystem. It also means greater contribution to your local tax system, directly translating to more municipal resources for you and your community.

Another remarkable impact of local business is job creation. Small businesses have been responsible for 2 out of every 3 jobs created nationally over the past 25 years. They are quite literally paying some of our bills, and are creating job opportunities for our neighbors. This further fuels a self-sustaining local economy, which is more resistant to recession.

While more money and more jobs are great in and of themselves, my favorite thing about small businesses is their degree of accountability. Small business accountability goes beyond a warm greeting when you walk in the door. Nonprofits report 250x more donations from small businesses than larger ones, and small businesses are noticeably more likely to contribute to a school fundraiser or sponsor a local 5k. While it has become marketable for big corporations to “do the right thing”, small businesses have been consistently doing the right thing for years without the PR incentive. This practiced commitment to the community is an unsung way in which local businesses enhance the quality of life for the communities around them.

Shopping local is more than a nod of approval for a mom and pop operation you want to see succeed; it creates abundance and connection in your community in a way that faceless corporations cannot. If you want to start shopping local but changing up your errand routine sounds like a hassle, start small. Commit to doing one errand a week with a local business. I believe that if we all do this, the momentum generated from our interconnected economic needs can carry us to a much more prosperous and engaged way of life–one I think many of us have been longing for without even knowing what exactly we were missing.

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