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Unique experiences, benefits await for those who shop, dine locally

By: Kate Uptergrove


Why shop small? 

The answer is simple. Shopping with local business owners means that, as consumers, we’re putting our money to work in our local communities. We’re investing in our neighbors and friends – from shop and restaurant owners to the staff members who work there. 

According to private research firm Civic Economics, “on average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses is recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.”

Think about your favorite place to dine or shop, it’s likely a locally owned business. Why? Locally owned businesses have personality and they offer unique experiences. 

Locally owned businesses are the personification of someone’s American dream. By patronizing those businesses, you get to share in those dreams. As an added benefit, owners of local businesses often are on hand to help you find exactly what you’re looking for or, in the case of a restaurant, to make you a memorable meal. And when you return time and time again, they get to know you by name and understand your likes and dislikes. That’s a level of customer service national chain stores and internet shopping just can’t deliver. 

Since 2010, U.S. customers have reported spending an estimated total of $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday – that’s $85 billion in just eight days, according to American Express, the driving force behind Small Business Saturday. 

That’s a powerful investment in the local community. Another is the impact that local businesses have on job creation. 

Civic Economics reports that more than half of the jobs held by Americans since 1995 were created by small businesses. The more you shop or dine at local stores and restaurants, the more potential you have for creating job opportunities and adding vitality to your community. 

Ninety percent of consumers surveyed by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses said Small Business Saturday had a positive impact on their communities. But the goal isn’t to shop local only on Nov. 24. It’s to shop local, and dine local, all year long. 

The American Independent Business Alliance sums up the most important reason why. According to the AIBA, “The disappearance of local businesses leaves a social and economic void that is palpable and real – even when it goes unmeasured. A community’s quality of life changes [without local businesses] in ways that macroeconomics is slow to measure, or ignores completely.”

Keeping a local economy thriving takes work – and not just for business owners. Consumers also play a role. Yes, it’s easy to get online and order every gift you’ll give this season while curled up under a throw on your couch. But those purchases do nothing to aid your local community. 

Making a conscious decision to shop local means more revenue in community coffers for things like neighborhood schools, police, fire protection, street repair and a whole host of other local services. 

Plus, local service providers are experts in their fields. Stop in at the local home improvement store to talk plumbing, flooring or appliances and you may leave scratching your head. But drop in on a locally owned hardware store, flooring center or appliance store and you’re sure to leave with the information you need to make an informed decision. That’s a perk that’s hard to put a price on. 

The same goes for owners of local boutiques and specialty shops. Not only do their wares make unique and thoughtful gifts, but the sales staff also are typically happy to talk shop and help you find exactly what you want for yourself or those on your holiday gift list.

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