See that list of businesses right over here… They are small, independently owned and run businesses here in Tangletown. You probably see their names every time we publish a newsletter, because they are consistently giving generously to our neighborhood activities. You can get to any one of these places by bike or on foot (or by any other vehicle), and chances are good you will recognize the person who greets you. Sometimes by name, because many owners live in Tangletown, maybe next door to you.
We’ve all heard the phrase “Shop Locally” but perhaps don’t know the reasons it’s important. If every family in the United States spent an extra ten dollars a month at local, independent businesses, approximately 9.3 billion dollars would be returned to local economies. Buying locally builds sustainable communities, links neighbors, promotes diversity of quality products and food, and keeps the uniqueness of the neighborhood alive.
Some people fear the potential for higher prices. While that can be true for some products, the benefits far outweigh the costs. How many times have you gone to a big chain store for a single item and spent a lot more on things they wanted you to buy? How far away do you have to go to get those cheaper products? Is gas free?
On a personal level, relationships are formed by buying from local people. This results in more honest business. We know what we are getting and where it is coming from when we purchase a product from someone we know. Word gets around and both sides benefit.
When people shop locally, those purchases are twice as efficient in keeping the local economy alive. Money needs to continuously move around to keep the economy going. When money is spent at national chains or online retailers, it flows out of the local economy. Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and set up shop in town as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.
Though the economic reasons for buying locally are strong on their own, there is still the idea of maintaining uniqueness. When we walk down our streets, would we rather see unique neighborhood shops or typical chains? (Isn’t that what malls are for?) It’s safe to say that most people enjoy diverse, inviting places owned by folks from the neighborhood. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of Tangletown.
It may seem like we have to completely overhaul our spending habits in order to support the local economy, but it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. Local businesses are owned by people who live here, work here, and are invested in the community with more than just their dollars. We can do the same by taking a moment to think “Can I buy this closer to home?” or hop on a bike and combine shopping with a little exercise. Consider where you want to spend your dollars; it may determine what kind of neighborhood you live in.