Written by Scott Soost in 2007 and still pertinent today!
The notion of shopping locally based merchants to save money may seem counter-intuitive. After all, don’t they lack the buying power to offer the lowest price and compete with the national chains? The offered products mix doesn’t compete with the big box offerings, however shopping locally buys you far more than the purchases you take home. Scott the store keeper, may not directly employ as many people as the big box store, but he does engage more local accountants, advertising firms, sign makers, attorneys, insurance brokers, computer consultants, architects and various other local services. These local entities in turn spend more of their revenue locally and depend on the local business to survive.
You may not realize the benefits of spending locally, but the benefits are visible all around you. Locally based businesses maintain a community’s historical or older building stock thus allowing a community to preserve its unique identity and sense of place. Maintaining the economic vitality and prosperity of your town helps combat crime and reduce additional public service and infrastructure costs.
Let’s not forget the other benefits of supporting entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship serves as a means for people to move out of low wage jobs into the middle class. It fuels innovation and thus ensures steady stream of product diversity. Not every budding manufacturer can supply or do business on the scale required for the big box store, they rely on smaller venues to survive.
Local business owners typically have much of their life savings ventured in their enterprise and consequently have a vested interest in the long-term health and well-being of the community. Their generosity is essential to charitable endeavors… sports teams, churches, outreach, etc. and many serve on local boards and support local causes.
As you go about your holiday gift buying, keep this in mind. When the gifts bought locally are unwrapped it will mean so much more than the physical gift!!!