It’s no secret that shopping local has become a buzzword. Even huge entities like Wal-Mart have taken to stocking local products to piggyback on the marketing credibility. And yet, being a “locavore” is much more than simple marketing fodder or material for reusable grocery bags. As a longtime member of Charlottesville’s local economy, Rebecca’s Natural Food has always sought to carry as many local products as possible. We carry a variety of 30 local brands (and growing) of Virginia grown meats, eggs, produce, baked goods, fermented foods, tea, and honey. We also carry a large array of locally made chocolates, coffee, soaps, body care products, candles, jewelry, cards and gift items. Because we’re local, we think local as often as we can in stocking our store. Without a community that valued shopping at independently owned, local businesses, we wouldn’t be writing this blog post!
Beyond the hype, labels, and fact that it just feels better, buying local has many measurable, tangible results. Not only does it improve economies, but it also has long-lasting benefits on people’s well-being.
Have you ever wondered how your consumer choices affect local economies, especially when you buy local? Read on to find out how buying local affects local economies, as well as how it can help you lead a healthier life.
Keeps money in the local economy… and out of the hands of major corporate entities with zero vested interest in your community.
Ever heard of the multiplier effect? This speaks to the actual impact of dollar spent. You may think it doesn’t matter much where your is spent so long as it takes place locally. But statistics show that when shopping locally, instead of ordering from Amazon or shopping at Wal-Mart, for example, your dollars tend to stay in your local community. A major Chicago study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city while spending the same amount at a chain retailer resulted in just $43 remaining in the city. Your spending habits have a ripple effect
Helps small businesses stay afloat… and thriving.
No examination of buying local would be complete without taking a look at what happens when you don’t shop locally. In addition to keeping money flowing within the local economy, another of the most obvious benefits of buying local is that it helps keep local businesses afloat. When Wal-Mart first began to spread widely throughout the US it dealt major blows to small “mom and pop” shops, causing many to shutter. For example, in 2006 the opening of a Wal-Mart in one area of Chicago led to the closure of about one-quarter of the businesses within a four-mile radius, according to a study by Loyola University. Researchers tracked 306 local businesses, checking their status before Walmart opened, then again in the following two years. By the second year of the Wal-Mart’s operation, another 82 of the businesses closed.
Any talk concerning “job creation” often becomes political, and fast. When it comes to jobs created by shopping local, independent businesses, its best to let the facts speak for themselves. Many studies have shown that independent businesses create around two-thirds of private sector jobs. What’s more, for every $10 million spent at a local business creates 57 jobs, while spending the same amount at a major conglomerate such as Amazon creates a mere 14 jobs. If that isn’t enough to make you use your Prime account less in favor of visiting something independently owned, we don’t know what is!
Furthermore, employment at local businesses has been shown to keep more people rooted in their communities. Peter Gill, a spokesman for the Chicago-based Illinois Retail Merchants Association explains that, “When you shop at small, local shops, you are putting money into the pockets of local workers who may be your neighbors or even family members,” in turn, “That income will likely be spent in town, making it a chain reaction.”
It has a positive civic impact and creates a sense of community
When you start feeding the local economy, the impact doesn’t just show on paper but shows in the strength of the community. In general, local business owners have greater incentives to support other local businesses, suppliers and more. A chain business, on the other hand, is more likely to take orders from corporate, as well as hire store managers and employees that aren’t as personally invested in the community. What goes around, comes around.
It’s healthier and more natural
In a global economy, it’s difficult for us to imagine a time when one couldn’t find imported foods at your local store, especially outside of major cities. When shopping for food, shopping local is linked to shopping seasonally, which also happens to be more eco-friendly. When you buy food that’s been flown around the world, wrapped in layers of plastic, the negative environmental imprint is much heavier. Ever noticed your local strawberries don’t taste very good in December? That’s because they’re out of season! When you shop at local grocery stores, bakeries, butchers, and farmers markets, it’s likely that most o f what you consume had a very short journey from the field to the marketplace. Out of necessity, it’s more likely to be in season.
We love our Charlottesville community and are always looking to discover new local brands. If you have a favorite or two, let us know!
Come see us at Rebecca’s for a large selection of locally sourced products or shop online!