“Most independent businesses are run by people - not by boards, not by stockholders, not by algorithms. And so you get a different kind of care and quality in their product because their work is a reflection of themselves. Instead of focusing on the next market they’re expanding into or the next round of funding they’re raising, they’re focusing on the details and [on] being the best they can be.”
-small business owners Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur (co-founders, Of a Kind)
You probably hear it all the time: Support local businesses! It sounds like a good idea. Right? But do you know why shopping locally can have such a big impact? Here are eight reasons why supporting small, local businesses is an awesome thing to do.
*Your money stays local. Local retailers return more than three times the money per dollar than chain stores, and local restaurants return more than two times the money to the community. In other words, $68 of every $100 you spend stays in your community! Compare that to the $43 that big businesses put back into the local economy. This money is then re-spent locally, which in turn increases your area’s level of economic activity, pays more of your friends’ and neighbors’ salaries, helps build the local tax base, and ultimately creates more public infrastructure - things like libraries, parks, and public services. Think of it this way: when you make purchases at local businesses or eat locally, your money is essentially being recycled, and is used to improve your city.
*Employment. Small, local businesses are the largest employers nationally, creating two out of every three new jobs. Small business are more likely to look out for your community members by giving them better wages and benefits. By shopping locally, you are helping to create more local job opportunities where you know employees are being taken care of, in addition to ensuring that local employment levels remain stable.
*Innovation and Competition. A marketplace of thousands and thousands of small businesses is the best way to, in the long run, maintain the lowest prices and the highest innovation. Shopping locally is an effective method of increasing economic character, since local businesses often carry unique and interesting products that are tailored to your needs and interests. Because of this local flair, supporting local businesses yields greater product diversity than you might find at big-box stores. Plus, since we compete with bigger businesses, you’ll often find special offers and discounts at local stores (Nutkrack punch cards, anyone? A good ol' Tower of Power?).
*Entrepreneurship. Because of the opportunities for innovation and for community members to move up from lower-paying jobs, small businesses are, according to artist Sougwen Chung, “the bedrock of entrepreneurship.” Nutkrack’s own Eric Rupert turned a 40+ year career creating food in Madison into an entrepreneurial opportunity when he opened our shop.
*Better for the environment. According to the National Resources Defense Council, buying local helps reduce pollution, improve air quality and better our health. Small businesses stay much more local than larger ones, making more local purchases and often operating in city centers rather than outskirts. This results in less fuel spent in transportation of both people and products. More locally-sourced materials also translates to less packaging materials and waste. At Nutkrack (and a bunch of other awesome Madison businesses), we go further by offering a 10% discount for Bicycle Benefits to our customers who choose this transportation option!
*We care about our customers! Shopping at a place that your neighbors own and run ensures that they care just as much about your community as you do; you both have a vested interest in the future of your community. Small businesses therefore tend to be more accountable to our communities than big-box counterparts. For example, 91% of small businesses contribute in some way to their community (volunteering, fundraising, donating money, etc...), and on average, they donate four times more to local charities than big businesses do. At Nutkrack, we donate to local charities and causes monthly, via our holiday fundraiser, and through Amazon Smile.
*You can be more directly involved. Many people feel that their voices - their feedback, needs, wants, and suggestions - are more valued at small businesses. It makes sense: you’ll feel the impacts of many of the decisions made at local businesses; so, you should get to help make them.
Shopping locally is such an effective way of helping out your neighbors, your community, and the environment. And in places like Madison, we’re so lucky to have an abundance of interesting and responsible local businesses. So: go forth, shop and be an active participant in shaping your community!