Small town America has long been decrying what it calls the “Wal-Marketization of America.” That’s when mom-and-pop shops or family-owned businesses on the main streets of small towns have their business drained away by a retail giant located in a nearby city.
Small business models are challenged by big chain stores because they compete on volume and price. The advent of e-commerce giants, especially Amazon, has also provided stiff competition for merchants that rely on local foot traffic.
This, in turn, has led to an increased focus on raising consciousness about the importance of shopping locally. Advocates of shopping local point to a number of benefits for doing so:
Stable Local Economy
Studies show that for every $100 spent locally, $68 will remain in the community. For every $100 spent at a national chain store, only $43 remains in the community. This “money drain” erodes the health of the local economy.
Better for the Environment
Local merchants say that when you order something online it often needs to be shipped thousands of miles. That means delivery vehicles burning fuel and generating greenhouse gases. Local items are also often shipped in initially, but the key is that the number of individual shipping trips is reduced when you buy locally.
Provides Local Jobs
If local businesses can’t sell more products, they can’t grow and hire more employees. Buying local is good for jobs that are close to home.
Stable Community Tax Base
Small towns and neighborhoods rely on taxes paid by local citizens to maintain robust and healthy local infrastructure. That means items like good streets, parks, schools, libraries, and more. Shopping local helps keep local tax revenue strong and supportive of what makes your neighborhood a good place to live.
Greater Choice Close to Home
Shopping locally nurtures an environment where a richer selection of consumer items is more readily available. This, in turn, leads to a deeper cultural milieu within a community. Buying items locally fosters ancillary enhancements of a community because more people operate in the environment which leads to a diversity of experience there.
Shopping local has long been debated because some sociologists question the premise or even the economic efficacy of buying local versus buying products remotely. It’s clear, however, that without local support in the form of dollars spent close to home, businesses close to home will struggle to survive.