Why is it important to shop local?

By Amanda Converse, Kate Sheehan, and Jen Villa
The terms ‘Buy Fresh, Buy Local,’ ‘Shop Local,’ and ‘Shop Small’ have made their way into the American consumer vernacular over the past decade, but to understand why they are important ideas on which to act, one must look beyond the words and catchphrases to the qualitative and quantitative factors.
When you shop local, you are buying products and services from your family, friends, and neighbors. Compared to nationally owned businesses, locally owned business owners tend to be more engaged in their community; employ staff members that have a greater understanding of what they are selling and develop relationships with their customers, as well as create more jobs collectively; and contribute much greater sums to nonprofits and local organizations. In addition, small local shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions make communities unique.
Quantitatively, the dollars spent in small businesses tend to generate more money for their region by recirculating it through the economy. Economic studies have shown that when a dollar is spent at a locally owned business, the portion of that dollar that stays in a local economy is at least double the amount spent at a national or chain business. And of course, when you shop online,  the money spent when you click ‘check out’ goes directly to the owner of that website – more often than not, a large corporation with a handsomely paid CEO.
Yes, corporate entities provide (often low-paying) jobs, but local businesses tend to reinvest more of their money into their community − not just in the form of wages, but also by using local services, buying local goods, and supporting local nonprofits and community organizations.
Choosing to spend your discretionary dollars with small local businesses instead of the alternative could not only generate millions of more dollars for a small local community, keeping small businesses, organizations and causes prospering, but it could also mean that an area remains special to the people who live there and visit.
The bottom line is that it is up to consumers to decide what kind of community they want to live in: one where corporate stores set up shop for as long as their stockholders’ goals are being met, or one where local businesses are thriving and reinvesting their hard-earned dollars into their local economy, and contributing to the cultural fabric of the region.
So, when making purchasing, dining, and entertainment decisions, such as where you shop for clothing, gifts, groceries and gas, consider the difference they can make for an entire community when you shop with a local business.
Amanda Converse, Kate Sheehan, and Jen Villa are the founders of Love.Live.Local., an organization devoted to promoting local events, businesses, personalities, and more. Learn more at lovelivelocal.com.