In a 2012 survey by the American Planning Association, when people were asked what made an ideal community, the top answer was having locally owned businesses nearby.
Unfortunately, it’s tough these days for local businesses to stay open. They face stiff competition from big chain stores, as well as from online retailers, which can usually offer lower prices and a larger selection. If you want to see your town’s local businesses survive and prosper, the best thing you can do is go the extra mile – or more accurately, stay close to home – to shop there.
Why Shopping Local Matters
When you have shopping to do, it’s tempting to take the easy route and head down to the mall – or easier still, just browse Amazon.com. Major chain stores and Internet retailers offer a huge selection, plus the convenience of one-stop shopping. On top of that, their prices may beat our local stores.
But keeping your dollars in Athens has other advantages that are just as important as saving a few bucks, even if they’re not immediately obvious. Here are just several of the many benefits you can reap by shopping locally:
A Stronger School System. During 2016, $9.3 Million dollars was generated for our schools from local sales taxes. In addtion, whenever thier is a school fundarisrer, our local businesses are the furst to contribute!
A Stronger Economy. Local businesses hire local workers. In addition to staff for the stores, they usually hire local architects and contractors for building and remodeling, local accountants and insurance brokers to help them run the business, and local ad agencies to promote it. They’re also more likely to carry goods that are locally produced, according to the American Independent Business Alliance. All these factors together create a “multiplier effect,” meaning that each dollar spent in a local store can bring as much as $3.50 into the local economy. By contrast, large chain stores tend to displace more local jobs than they create because they often drive local retailers out of business.
A Closer Community. Shopping at local businesses gives neighbors a chance to connect with each other. It’s easier to get to know someone you see often at a local coffeehouse than someone you only wave to on your way in and out of your house. Knowing your neighbors makes it possible to exchange favors, such as pet-sitting or sharing tools.
A Great Place to Live. The last factor is more difficult to measure than the others, but it’s just as important: Local businesses simply make our town a better, more interesting place to live. One suburban housing development looks much like another, but a town center with thriving local businesses has a feel that’s all its own. Local eateries, bars, bookstores, food markets, pharmacies, and gift shops all combine to give a place its unique character.
When you invest money in our local economy, you’re not just helping local business owners – you’re also helping our schools and your family! You’re making your town a better place to live in, with a rich character, a thriving economy, and a tightly knit community. And the more local businesses prosper, the more new ones will open – making it even easier to continue shopping locally in the future.