Why local businesses count.

I was told once that a local retailer (not here) started to put fliers in their customer’s bags that showed how much of each dollar spent in their store that stayed in the community. They compared the number to their national chain competition. The results were astounding – $100 spent at local retailers retains almost $67 or 67% as opposed to national chains where $43 stays local – or in other words 25% of money spent in local stores stays in the local economy.

Why does all of this matter? In this day and age, large big-box corporations are becoming more prevalent in communities such as ours. And where they have their place, they are also crowding out some of the long-established local retailers. This is not a bash on the big-box stores, but a call to action to save our local retailers, and here are just a few reasons why:

  • Local retailers hire locally. Most big-box stores do hire locally, but also bring in a certain percentage of workers that either commute from other areas or relocate.
  • Local retailers buy goods locally. Most of the big-box stores are trending towards local purchases for produce and other goods, however their market share is still lower than local retailers.
  • Local retailers contract local services through well-established relationships whereas big-box national retailers will contract with national contractors who are not necessarily based in the local community.
  • Local retailers are usually members of the local Chamber of Commerce and immersed in the business community. Big-box retailers sometimes join chambers, but most of the time corporate policies prohibit local involvement.

Why does this all matter? Well if a local retailer were to have a 10% increase in profits, most of that money would then circulate its way back into the community allowing for more growth and prosperity.

Here is what you can do to help:

  1. Look at local retailers when you are looking to buy goods and services. The Manatee Chamber of Commerce maintains a detailed membership directory to assist you in this endeavor and provides tools such as the Local Quotes 4 U which gives anyone access to solicit proposals from Chamber Members.
  2. Ask your retailer where their goods are sourced from. In this area of the country, we are blessed with agriculture and manufacturing that is local and more diversified than you think.
  3. Split your money between the big-box retailers and the local retailers. You will find that you may pay more at the local retailer, but the quality and customer service as well as the savings on fuel will outweigh the savings at the big-box retailer.
  4. Encourage others to adopt the above practices or to look through the Chamber directory for local business contacts.
  5. Encourage businesses that are not members of their local Chamber to join. According to a Shapiro Group study, 63% of those polled would buy from a Chamber member over a non-member based on their investment in their own community.

If most everyone in Manatee County took just $10 a week and spent it at their favorite retailer, we could have an initial economic impact of well over $1 million dollars per week adding up to over $50 million per year. And that is money that stays in our community.

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