Shop Local. It’s become a very popular concept in our society of late; it’s written all over billboards and t-shirts. But what does it really mean? Why is everyone telling us to shop local? It’s a simple, concept, really: we vote with our money; that is, how we choose to spend it. By investing your money in your local community, you are ultimately voting for the success of your community. Don’t we all want our own communities to be successful? Read on to see how shopping in your own backyard is helping your own economy flourish.
Building a Community
With the many technological advances that keep happening in our society, we are easily able to connect with people that are thousands of miles away. This has become both a benefit and a distraction when it comes to our own communities. We have strengthened our skills of social networking via the internet; what about in our own neighborhood? Local fairs and businesses help to foster interactions and relationships with people who are directly impacted by the same community issues that you are.
Less of a Carbon Footprint
When you are shopping nearby your house, you are helping Mother Nature, too! Think about how short your driving distance is to shop locally; in fact, you might even be able to walk. Right there alone, you are reducing your carbon footprint. Also, local vendors often source locally, because costs are lower when they don’t have to pay for delivery or returns. They also are usually set up within the main area of town as opposed to being located on the edge. This generally means that local vendors are creating less travel pollution, congestion, and habitat loss (source 1). Believe it or not, you are increasing the footprint by not shopping from local vendors. Fast food chains and big box retail stores buy in bulk. This requires delivery trucks and planes that have travelled cross country to bring supplies or to send packages to online customers. These deliveries contribute to local (and worldwide) pollution.
Strengthen Your Local EconomyShopping at a local independent store will return three times as much money to your dollar than at a big box retail store (source 2). What this ultimately means is that a larger percentage of your money is recirculating within your community by purchasing from an independent local vendor. That is something that benefits both you and your neighbors!
Lower Your Taxes
Here in Illinois, not a day passes that I don’t hear someone complaining about taxes. Who knew that we could be helping our situation by shopping locally? Small local businesses, business parks, hotels and offices generate a positive net revenue, that is, the money goes back into the community (source 3). Unfortunately, big box retail stores and fast food chains create debts that outweigh tax revenues; the many maintenance and infrastructure costs are charged to taxpayers.
A One-of-a-Kind Place
When I visit my old college campus, there is a specific breakfast place that I like to go to. It is the only one of its kind, and the only time I can have it is when I am there in town. Even though I often wish there were one that were closer by where I live now, I also know deep down that is what creates a unique community and generates tourism. It wouldn’t be nearly as special if there were more than one. Restaurants, shops, local areas where we spend our time--are distinctive to your community and create a feeling of home.