‘Tis the season to buy local

Published 7:15 pm Thursday, November 19, 2009

With the holiday season fast approaching, giving will naturally become top of mind. While many of us will focus on what gifts to purchase, it’s just as important to think about where you buy them. This year, please consider spending your dollars at locally owned stores.

Small independent businesses are the backbone of our communities and the primary economic driver in Virginia and the nation. Small businesses pay 45 percent of the total U.S. payroll and have generated 60-80 percent of the net new jobs every year for the past decade.

Large businesses have cut employees; small businesses are holding their own. Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees provide work for 41-million Americans.


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Big-box national chains spend a great deal of money each year on advertising campaigns designed to lure you into their stores. But when that money leaves your wallet, much of it also leaves town.

When you buy local, the majority of the revenue remains in the community. For every $100 spent at an independent business, $45 is returned directly to the area economy – more than three times the return gained from dollars spent at a national chain.

Think about it: Local retailers are your friends and neighbors. They’re the ones who sponsor your son’s little league team and support countless community charities. They’re the people we interact with personally.

They’re also the ones who make purchases from other local businesses and service providers – contractors, accountants, insurance brokers, computer consultants, attorneys, sign makers, among others – continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.

What’s more, they’re the kind of establishments that give a community character. Local stores tend to carry many one-of-kind items that tell the person you’re shopping for that you put a great deal of thought into his or her gift. Plus, as more and more communities attract the same collection of cookie-cutter businesses, a marketplace 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.

When you think about it, buying local is sort of like recycling: It takes a little time to readjust your behavior, but eventually it becomes second nature. If there was ever a time to begin the practice, it’s right now.

By keeping your holiday dollars local, you are, in effect, purchasing two presents – the one you buy directly and the one that enables the local retailer to remain a community resource.