Fun fact: when you read a word you don’t understand, but continue on with the sentence, a part of your brain will stay transfixed upon the word in question. So that means that a great deal of your brain is still trying to crack the whole “twerking” puzzle.
But there’s one word that gets thrown around quite a bit that we can actually shed light on, and it also happens to be one of our favorite words of all time: local.
When we refer to a business as a local business, just what do we mean?
More than physical proximity, local businesses are distinguished by a type of ownership, and by extension, a particular economic impact on the community.
Local and Local To Me
I recently bought a shirt from LoinCloth Los Angeles, a local business based out of L.A., and as I was explaining to the coffee shop girls who were inquiring about the shirt (which is truly fabulous, you should check them out), they stopped me halfway through my description of this local company and said, “Local? How can they be local if they’re in L.A.? We’re in Phoenix.”
And thus the paradox of being local and not-local-to-me arises. Any business that is independently owned, and makes their products here in America, earns the title “local” in our book. And while I might buy a shirt made in L.A., or a bar of soap from a chemist in Portland, I am still supporting local businesses all from the way from sunny Phoenix, AZ.
This is what makes ‘buying local‘ more of a mindset; supporting local is making the commitment to purchase from independent business owners, no matter where you are. And while it’s great to buy products from your own hometown, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can still support local even when you’re ordering something out of state. So the next time you’re trying to find that perfect item, don’t turn to the big box stores right away, just because you can’t find what you’re looking for down the street.
Big Box, Little Items
Then there are the big-box retailers that feature locally made items, such as finding a “For Pits Sake!” deodorant from the local people at G.B. Proudfoot’s at a national grocery chain. Other than being a great coup for the guy who got his products into the national store, the store itself is corporate and has a lesser local economic impact than an independently owned store. So the next time you’re browsing through the aisles of a big-box store (rhymes with ‘blarget’) keep a look out for the smaller, locally made brands.
Alternatively, a locally owned retailer might feature every major brand in the country. Take Bashas’ supermarkets in Arizona. This family-owned grocery company has over 130 stores in the state, and features every product found in the corporate-owned Kroger stores. But what makes them different is the marked community investment from the hometown retailer.
So size doesn’t necessarily equal status, and visa versa.
Why Local Business Matters
More than anything, all local businesses are independently owned and operated. Their owners have complete control over the business, which is not the same thing as a franchise.
So now you know just what a local business is, but the question remains: Why should I support local? The fact is, supporting your fellow local business owners is the best way to get our economy moving forward again. And it’s not just the obvious economic impact of local businesses that should be celebrated. The infusion of culture and community that comes with every new independent business makes our cities more livable and diverse.
Need more proof? Here’s a little refresher:
A recent study conducted by Civic Economics for the Local First organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan, “Local Works! Examining the impact of local business on the West Michigan Economy,” highlighted the inarguable impact of shifting just 10% of the market share from national chains to locally owned businesses.
The study found that in a population of about 770,000, this 10% shift in spending creates:
- $137 million in new economic activity (click to tweet!)
- Over 1,600 new jobs (click to tweet!)
- Over $50 million in new wages (click to tweet!)
And, when you spend $100 at a local business, $68 stays in the local economy, versus only $43 of $100 spent at a non-locally owned business.