You've probably heard it a time or two: Go Local. Think Like a Local. Shop Local.
But what does all that mean? Does buying your kids' clothes or your new paddleboard from a locally-owned and operated retailer really make all that much difference? It sure does.
A 2010 report issued by Michigan State University's Center for Community and Economic Development offered the following figures about buying local:
Buying local keeps more money in the local economy. For every $100 you spend locally, $73 from buying local stays in the community. At a non-locally owned business, just $43 from buying non-local stays in the local economy.
Local businesses give back on a much larger scale. In 2002, the Institute for Self-Reliance found that the charitable contributions made by local businesses in a Maine town were roughly $4,000 per $1 million in sales for local businesses, while the Wal-Mart in the same town contributed just $1,000.
Buying local cuts down on your eco footprint. Local businesses tend to buy more from other local businesses, which also reduces the vehicle miles traveled and cuts down on air pollution and road maintenance, as well as improving habitat loss and road congestion. Locally-produced products sold in a local economy also tend to have less packaging, reducing the amount going into landfills.
Beyond the numbers that show time and again that shopping local benefits any local economy in which people are living, working and shopping, here's another more locally-based thing to consider: The maintenance of our city streets is funded through local tax dollars. And where do those come from? From income taxes, mostly. So when you're supporting a local business, you're giving that business owner—and their employees—a chance at making a higher wage... which in turn means higher revenues for our local governments and more money for local police, fire, schools and infrastructure. Think about that the next time you're swerving around a pothole.
It's buying from locally-owned, locally-operated businesses. Not sure whether a business fits the bill? Just ask them. Local businesses will be glad to share information—and there's a very good chance the person you ask will actually be the person who owns the place. Still, if you need some guidance, check out the following pages for a few examples of where to buy and who to buy for.
· Outside the Box for the Shoppers in Training
· Outside the Box for those Livin' Large
· Outside the Box for the Soccer Mom (and Dad, too)
· Outside the Box for the Trail Warrior
· Outside the Box for the Yogi