A brief opinion piece< read all 2 reviews
For as long as I can remember I have always had a soft spot in my heart for locally-owned businesses. I make it my business to support them whenever I can. This is something that I feel very strongly about. Aside from the fact that I derive a great deal of satisfaction of walking into a place "where everybody knows your name" I find that I usually get much better service in these stores. Very often the owner is right there on the premises and he/she is quite willing to go the "extra mile" to satisfy a valued customer. I find that this is in direct contrast to the environment in the "big box" stores where I always feel like I am rambling through a maze amid a sea of strangers.
But aside from the comfort factor there are an awful lot of very compelling economic reasons why you should support local businesses whenever possible. First and foremost, local businesses are invested in your community. If you look behind the scenes at any civic activity that contributes to the common well being of your community you are likely to find a local business person giving their time, product and often their money to worthwhile causes. These are the folks most likely to support the cub scout raffle, the cheerleaders car wash and the PTA bake sale. Local business people are the unsung heroes of our communities. They are the leaders, the ambitious, hard working people who have ideas and act on them.
Another good reason to do business with the locals is that the money you spend in a locally owned and operated establishment stays local. If you do business with one of the big chain stores most of that money leaves your hometown and as a result you and your neighbors accrue very little benefit from this spending. Meanwhile, when you choose to spend your dollars at the locally owned hardware or grocery store that money is more likely to be spent again and again in the local economy. A number of economic studies have found that locally owned businesses generate more than three times the economic impact of chain retailers on equal sales. For every $100 spent at a national retailer only $13 remains in the local economy. Meanwhile, if that same $100 is spent at a locally owned business more than $45 stays in the local economy. Simply put, that dollar you spend with the local merchant goes a whole lot farther in the local economy than money spent in the national chain stores. This is a "win-win" situation for us all.
I urge you to consider all of this information the next time you are contemplating where to purchase your next lawnmower or refrigerator. Sure, doing business with a local retailer may cost you a bit more in the short run. But trading with local merchants keeps competition alive in your town and helps to keep local property taxes in check. That's because local businesses pay their fair share of taxes. However, the same cannot be said for the "big box" stores. In her 2006 book "Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America's Independent Businesses" author Stacy Mitchell tries to alert a largely unsuspecting public to the tactics and schemes used by these major chains to try to extort money from the rest of us. For one thing retailers like Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target have been gobbling up precious open spaces at an alarming rate for decades to accomodate their mammoth stores. And as Stacy Mitchell correctly points out there are all sorts of costs that a city or town must incur when a big box retailer comes to town. There are property tax breaks, sales tax rebates, low interest loans, infrastructure and site improvements, free or reduced price land, job training credits etc. etc. etc. Seems like the rich just keep getting richer while the rest of us are forced are forced to make up the taxes that these mega-retailers are not paying. And as the big chains proliferate there is also the loss of genuine community that exists when we meet and greet our neighbors in the local coffee shop or sporting goods store. I rest my case. I hope I made it well!
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