I recently watched the movie “Roger & Me“, a documentary by Michael Moore about a town called Flint Michigan that was desolated when a the largest auto plant (and main industry) in town moved their manufacturing to cheaper labor in China. Some would blame General Motors then-CEO, Roger B. Smith (the namesake of the movie) for this malicious act. But, although I acknowledge his misdoings in the matter, I don’t know if it was all his fault. We’ve all heard the stories of small towns being eaten alive when Wal-Mart moves into town. But it’s not always an army of big-box stores that beats up small-town economies. Most the time, it’s a series of little choices that you make, and I make, and our aunt’s cousin’s boyfriend makes. Just like in Flint, Michigan, communities can grow exponentially or wither into oblivion simply based on our buying trends.
This is a scary thought, isn’t it? You start a life somewhere: lay down some roots, enroll your kids in a school system you trust, maybe buy a house, pay your taxes… Then, next thing you know, your neighbors are moving, the community center is going under due to low tax revenues, and your favorite coffee shop just closed down.
But we’re not in Flint, Michigan. And we can’t count on some omniscient CEO like Roger B. Smith (I hope you’re picking up on my sarcasm here) to make the call. It’s all in the hands of your friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow community members, and… most importantly… YOU!
We all spend money everyday on things we need: food & drink, necessities & indulgences. And who it’s bought from matters! What if that Community Center might have someday changed countless lives… or even the world? Did you know the first Continental Congress happened at a local Coffee House? With all that’s at stake, it makes you wonder why anyone wouldn’t try to buy local. What an easy fix, right? Well, it may not always feel that easy. In a town like Cordova, prices can be higher, selection smaller, and (especially in the case of fresh produce) the product inferior. But, in a town like Cordova, it is even more important to make those efforts to continue to buy local as much as possible. What would this town be without Nichols’ Front Door, Laura’s, Cordova Telephone, Redden Marine, The Net Loft & Cordova Wireless?
Did you know every dollar you spend at an independent, local business creates 3.5 times more local economic benefit than dollars spent at a non-local business or chain. And locally-owned independent businesses support your community in many other ways too. Here are your Top Ten Reasons to Buy Local from sustainableconnections.org.
Top Ten reasons to Think Local – Buy Local – Be Local
- Create more good jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, provide the most jobs to residents.
- Support community groups: Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.
- Keep our community unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit. “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” ~ Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust
- Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling & the environment they live in, and take more time to get to know customers.
- Buy Local — Support yourself: Locally-owned businesses buy from other locally-owned businesses — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.(Click here to see summaries of a variety of economic impact studies; these include case studies showing that locally-owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the community and our tax base.)
- Reduce environmental impact: Locally-owned businesses make more local purchases, they also require less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
- Invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
- Put your taxes to good use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared non-locally owned stores entering the community.
- Buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
- Encourage local prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.
Hence, the birth of the slogan “Buy Local”. We’ve all heard it. We all know we should… Your friends and neighbors will thank you, your kids will thank you, and it just feels good!
So now, Go Forth & Go Local!