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Give Better Gifts: Shop Local

A few Sundays ago I was heading out to run my errands. And I’ll admit, Walmart was on my “to-do” list.. As a small
business owner who works with small business owners, I try to support my local small businesses when I can and as I made my Walmart shopping list I wondered  if I could  fulfill it  – on a Sunday –  shopping at nothing but local independent stores.  Sadly, the answer was “no, I couldn’t”.

 That’s when I realized that learning to shop local would be more than just a minor shift in how we do things- it has to become a way of life.  It probably means not only altering how, when, and where we buy – but WHAT we buy.  small business shopping

Tis the season for us all to storm to  the mall in droves to buy  the same boring gifts as everyone else in the country. Or worse yet, spend hours browsing aisle after aisle and shelf after shelf, because we don’t know what to get Aunty Millie – because it all just seems so … impersonal!

 This year be different!  How about a few jars of  yummy homemade low-sugar marionberry jam from a local farm with a dozen fresh muffins from a local bakery? Much better than that Yankee Candle set you were going to pick up at Costco, right? Or how about a gift certificate to a favorite local restaurant instead of a Macy’s scarf? Or some olive oil from your local olive grower, a handmade box of chocolates from a small local chocolatier , a car tune-up from a local mechanic, a car wash, a haircut,  fresh flowers,  dog grooming services,  a round of golf for your husband and his buddies or bowling for the family, maid or landscaping services for that busy working couple,  or bookkeeping or CPA services gift certificates for that small business owner? Make it a day of visiting local businesses to fulfill your holiday shopping list! And have fun- get out there, meet your neighbors!

Besides, doesn’t the effort put into choosing a gift count almost more than the gift itself?  It’s much more special when you put thought into it – and even go out of your way a little for it.

Supporting our local small businesses isn’t just good for the people on your shopping list, it’s good for small business owners, our neighborhoods, and our communities! Here are some facts:

  • For every $100 spent locally, $68 goes back to the community through payroll, taxes, and other expenditures. If you spend that at a national chain only $43 dollars stays here, and if you shop online nothing comes home. (Source: the 3/50 Project)
  • Locally owned firms contribute more to local charities and fundraisers than their national counterparts. (Source: Anderson Study of Retail Economics, Chicago, IL, Oct. 2004)
  • Small Business accounts for 75% of all new jobs*
  • Locally owned businesses reinvest in the local economy at a 60% higher rate than chains and internet retailers*
  • Small businesses create more than half of the non-farm gross domestic product (GDP)*
  • Locally owned and operated businesses create higher paying jobs for you and your neighbors*
  • More of your tax dollars are reinvested in your community to fund local schools, hire more police, and improve roads*
  • *Sources: Sources: U.S. Chamber of Commerce – Small Business Nation; Civic Economics – Andersonville Study of Retail Economics; Civic Economics – San Francisco Report on Retail Diversity; U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

Ok, so maybe you can’t get everything on that Christmas or shopping  list  from a locally owned retailer – and maybe it’s too much to ask to completely change our lifestyles to give up shopping national chains and buy only from local companies. But these stats show that shifting just 10% of our spend will have a huge impact.  Not only on the local business owners and their families, and the families of the people they employ, but our local communities – and even our country.

Start NOW – show your support for local businesses by saving some of that holiday budget for small businesses and making a statement…  This Saturday, November 26th is national Small Business Saturday–   So instead of hitting the malls in droves, let’s hit our local small businesses in droves!!!  Wouldn’t it be great to see a decline in sales at national retailers on Black Friday and an increase in local spending on Small Business Saturday??? That would be awesome!

For more information about shop local movements visit the 3/50 project and Small Business Saturday. 

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