Enviro Girl is a HUGE fan of patronizing locally owned and operated businesses. From restaurants to florists to film developers to groceries, if it’s owned by Mom and Pop, you’ll find her spending her money there. Her reasons are environmental, political and economical — here’s the breakdown of why she shops local:
1. More money stays in the local economy when we shop local. According to the 3/50 Project, for every $100 spent at local independent businesses, $68 stays in the community, vs. $43 at a non locally owned business. Shop online and none of it returns to your town. Want to boost your area’s economy? Shop local. Enviro Girl likes her money to go to her neighbors and friends, not to the Waltons or the Kohls (even though they live in her state).
2. Local businesses give locally. Check out the back of Little League t-shirts and programs from local theater productions — it’s Lou’s Diner and King’s Variety Store sponsoring community life. It’s pretty darn hypocritical to beg the locally owned businesses for donations to your school’s silent auction and then turn around and shop at the Big Box Stores who don’t give to local organizations at the level that independent retailers do.
3. Locally-owned ensures choice and diversity. Chains don’t have any regard for local needs, climate or concerns. Chains don’t have character. Sadly, many folks live in areas where Big Box stores have taken over, leaving no choice, no diversity.
4. Locally owned means COLOR and CHARACTER. The entire planet is morphing into identical strip malls with identical storefronts. How depressing. If you value the unique color of your downtown, you have to leave your money behind supporting it. If you don’t, those stores shutter up and you’re left with nothing but Big Box shopping experiences that look the same from San Diego to Philadelphia.
5. Luring chain stores costs communities more than they benefit them. The tax revenue drops, an equal number of jobs are displaced, the co-dependence of locally owned businesses is broken when Big Box stores enter the picture because they’re beholden to no one local.
6. Big Box stores and chain stores and superstores waste land resources, contributing to urban sprawl and suburban blight. One empty Wal-Mart store covers 100,000 square feet, not counting the parking lot. Strip malls give way to enclosed malls and free-standing megastores. Across America today there are thousands of Big Box stores sitting empty, 30 million square feet of empty building and that much more asphalt-covered parking lot.
7. In addition to wasting land resources, chain stores pull traffic away from “Main Street America” and out to the edges of town, creating more reliance on driving and resulting in more dependence on cars. Most new retail outlets are not pedestrian or bike-friendly and many strain already underfunded public transportation by adding miles and miles to their routes — pulling shoppers and workers further from the central hub of their communities. Chain stores add to traffic congestion and air pollution. Taxpayers end up footing the bill to manage and reroute traffic every time a new Big Box gets built. In this article, Enviro Girl learned that the new trend in chain stores is to go SMALLER to fit into neighborhoods once again in response to consumer demand. Turns out people want shopping centers in the CENTER of their communities–it’s easier for pedestrians, more convenient and creates a stronger sense of community. Enviro Girl adds that in the face of an aging Baby Boomer population, better pedestrian convenience will keep more elderly people in a position to live independently. Plus, pedestrian convenience is healthy for people AND the environment.
8. Urban sprawl that inevitably results from Big Box stores puts more stress on a community’s infrastructure. It increases pollution to air and groundwater. It demands expansion of sewer, water, electricity, garbage pick up, police patrol and first response services. This also happens at taxpayers’ expense.
9. Shopping local means more expertise and more attentive customer service. Why? Because that’s what they have to offer instead of loss leaders in aisle 7.
10. Shopping local means connecting with your community. Enviro Girl knows the guy who bags her groceries and she’s taken karate classes with a local florist. These people live in her town, work in her town and are invested in her town. They are her neighbors, their kids play on the same teams as her sons, they pay property taxes to support the local schools. Their livelihoods depend on Enviro Girl just as hers depends on theirs. She will not break that cycle just to save a few bucks because the ten reasons she’s just listed mean more to her than money.
Do your community a favor this Christmas: shop local. Check out The 3/50 Project to learn more about how you can support your locally owned businesses.