At the Local Business Institute, we don’t refer to businesses as the classic B to B (Business to Business) or B to C (Business to Consumer). We refer to all business as H to H (Human to Human) because that’s what local business really is. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you aren’t doing business with a company but rather a human being. It’s one of the beautiful things about small local business—they aren’t giant, faceless corporations, they’re your neighbors and friends.
The shop local movement in this country is about 25 years old. The founders of the Local Business Institute were at the forefront of leading the buy local movement in its earliest years. It’s only fitting that we should return to the fold by creating Shop Local Week.
Small business has long recognized the first week of May as Small Business Week, fostered by the SBA for more than 50 years. It’s a terrific week of highlighting and helping small business. But as a customer, you’re probably not even aware of Small Business Week. Let’s change that!
Shop Local Week is for you, the wonderful customers of locally owned businesses. You sustain, nurture, grow and influence the local businesses in your community. Not by some herculean effort but simply by being their customer. Hardly a chore since they give you so much in return.
Your local businesses give you local choices the big boxes can’t. Live in a hot place and looking for a cotton sweater? Good luck if the person ordering sweaters lives in Chicago, not Austin. You get to have the experience of interacting with the owner who is sensitive to your needs and wants. Walk in the door of a local business and likely a friendly face and familiar greeting embrace you in being part of the community they help create.
While these businesses contribute most of your local tax revenue, an even greater impact exists in the recirculation of dollars spent at locally-owned businesses. A landmark study conducted by Civic Economics found that more than three times the dollars stay in your community from money spent at a locally-owned business rather than a chain store. Specifically, spending $100 at a locally-owned store puts $45 recirculating in your local economy whereas only $13 of $100 spent at a chain store stays in your local economy. These facts have now been confirmed through studies in large and small communities all across the nation.
But local business is more than an economic powerhouse. It is the manifestation of our drive to create. It is the direct response of neighbors to the needs of other neighbors. It is the storefront of our hopes and dreams as individuals and as a community. Entrepreneurs embrace their talents with a passion that feeds both their endeavors and our culture. From the unique shops to the artists and musicians (independent businesses one and all) to the entrepreneurial spirit that exudes the attitude that anything can be done—local business makes it happen every day.
But as we have so painfully learned in the Pandemic, local business can disappear. They need you and you need them. The road to a healthy local economy lies in the thriving local business community. Keep local business thriving and they will return multiples to the community both in economic impact and culture.
In May join the Local Business Institute and our partners Dane Buy Local in Madison WI, the Louisville Independent Business Alliance in Louisville KY, Economic Growth Business Incubator in Austin TX and Go Local Sonoma County in Sonoma County CA.
So shop local during Shop Local Week and beyond. It’s fun. It tastes good. It feels good. You can shop anywhere—Shop Local. For more information and ideas for shopping locally, see Shop Local Week at LBI.