We have all seen and heard the same slogan time and time again; “shop local.” Why is it such a big deal to hop in the car and go to a local mom-and-pop store when we can shop on Amazon from our couch? That money benefits those local business owners and employees which in turn represents the lunch money and sports uniforms of our youth and the date night dinner and movie for others. When you think of it from that perspective, it makes you think twice.
To break it down, as money goes from your pocket to the checkout counter, 68% comes right back to the local economy when you shop locally as opposed to a national chain (43%) or online (0%) (source: The 3/50 Project). The money flows back in the form of payroll, taxes and other expenses. Those funds create jobs and the sales taxes collected support the infrastructure, emergency services, law enforcement, educational systems and public recreational facilities. Funding these facilities and services makes the community a destination attracting visitors and prospective residents, further stimulating the local economy.
Most people want to live in a place that is uniquely its own. Funding mom-and-pop businesses will contribute to the individuality of our community. The products offered by local businesses are hand-picked for their niche customer which allows a more diverse selection of products and a personalized customer experience. Owning a brick-and-mortar small business allows entrepreneurs to bring their dreams to reality and serves as a means for families to move away from lower-wage jobs and be more deeply connected to their careers. Encouraging entrepreneurship is a vital step in maintaining a healthy local economy.
By shopping locally, we are even helping the environment. When we make purchases online, those products require extra resources to package and ship to individual households as opposed to bulk shipments to stores. The delivery trucks are using our roads and bridges nationwide but aren’t investing in them or funding repairs, not to mention the high levels of carbon dioxide emissions. We have ironically traded trips to the mall, in relatively fuel-efficient cars for deliveries in large trucks and diesel tractor trailers. Ouch!
The guilt may be starting to sink in, but how can I buy local if I don’t know what is local? This seems to be the biggest issue, as the campaign to shop local is relatively new, there are few resources identifying these products to consumers. The Office of Lieutenant Governor has acted by creating a national BUY MISSOURI initiative to actively promote to other states and the world the products that are grown, manufactured, processed and/or made in Missouri. Their website allows businesses to apply to be listed on their buymissouri.net business directory.
Retail trends in America are changing by the day and it’s so easy to get wrapped up in online shopping. When you buy local, remember that those dollars aren’t going into a vault full of money, they are then purchasing groceries for a family of 5, they are buying an ice cream for a student that just received a great report card or are filling up the car for a weekend vacation. You are single-handedly supporting your fellow Jefferson City families, and you should be proud of your contribution!
What can I do?
- Have car dealers order your vehicle if not in stock
- Buy groceries at the farmers market
- Buy Christmas gifts from locally owned retailers during Small Business Saturday
- Go out to eat in Jefferson City
- Bank locally at a community bank or credit union