The best gift we can give our neighbors this holiday season is our support by buying local. As we enter the gift-giving season, keeping our shopping dollars in our own community can make a substantial difference in helping to save small businesses and startups from the ravaging economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It might surprise you to know that businesses with fewer than 20 workers accounted for 89 percent of employer firms in the United States, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. Some industries have been more vulnerable to the pandemic’s effects than others, including retail and hospitality.
I’m not suggesting building a wall around your community or cutting the internet cable to restrict online shopping. I’m just asking that we all be a little more intentional this holiday season with our purchases. Our small businesses need our help. Together we can nurture these locally owned businesses that use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve local consumers.
How can we make a difference? In addition to traditional shopping, we can schedule services, buy gift cards or shop online with local businesses for pickup or delivery.
In addition to the direct benefit of supporting local small business owners, buying locally offers indirect benefits such as generating sales tax revenue used to fund various community needs and programs, including vital services like police and fire protection, street repairs and other town services. When we support a local business, the owner is more likely to shop with other local businesses, keeping the money circulating in the local economy even longer.
Local businesses support good work in our community. Several studies show that nonprofits receive 250 percent more support from small businesses than large ones.
Local business owners tend to be experts in their fields in order to be competitive, so shopping with them
means we are likely to get an expert perspective on the products and services we are purchasing.
Doing business locally helps create a sense of community. By getting to know local business owners, we build relationships that extend beyond the buyer and seller. We can be intentional with our spending and buy from those that support local charities and causes.
Shopping local has always been important, but now that we are facing down a worldwide pandemic, it’s more critical than ever. If we all work together, we can help keep our small businesses alive and help them thrive as we move into the new year.
—Dave Quinn, Fairview Economic Development