The saying goes: a little goes a long way. When it comes to spending locally, a better saying is: a little goes a short way…at least in distance. Over and over again studies have shown that spending money on a local business, service, or charity is a better investment than spending on the internet or on a national chain.
It doesn’t take much to shift dollars locally. The problem isn’t desire; the problem is knowledge. So many claim to be local but aren’t. Many hidden local gems have nationally recognized (and advertised) branding. A good place to start is our local exclusive business and services directory.
So, is one of your 2021 goals to support struggling local businesses? First, congrats! Second, it isn’t as hard as you think.
Local is the New “New”
In the world of marketing, the two most powerful words are “new” and “free”. Beyond that everything else is just a fad. Whether the flavor of the year is improved, sleek, economical, eco-friendly, sporty, young, buzz words abound in marketing, and this year, the buzz word is “local”.
Everybody is talking about being local. There are variations including the buzzwords “hometown” and “neighborhood”. Still, saying it doesn’t mean it is true. Buying and supporting local is, as it turns out, not as clear cut as it seems.
Some local things are hiding in plain sight, like insurance agents and auto dealerships, which are a franchise yet are locally owned businesses. Other businesses are simply local reps for national and international companies, acquiring all of their resources except labor from a national distribution chain. All of these businesses want to be branded local because, after all, supporting local is cool.
With a little effort, however, you can definitely support local, and not just by going to a restaurant (although that helps).
It is a simple matter of math. According to businesswire.com, for every dollar spent on small or locally-owned businesses, 67% is retained in the local economy with fully 44% spent on employees and benefits. Those employees go on to support other small businesses and invest in the local economy. It is a classic ripple effect.
There are hidden effects by spending locally as well. Local businesses tend to be more flexible with their hours, offering jobs to people who normally would struggle to work in a more structured (and nationally driven) employment environment. Those include students and single parents who, given the current public health environment, have found it difficult to work.
Local businesses are also heavily invested in their local community. They are much more likely to support local causes, local schools, and local charities. They do so in ways that often can’t be quantified, like quick donations for silent auctions or contest prizes to proudly displaying racks of business cards.
Why is Local Hot?
The plight of local businesses during the last year has been well documented and publicized. In particular, bars, restaurants, salons, barbers, coffee shops, and food trucks, entertainment venues, and events have been hard hit. These small businesses are both highly visible and much beloved. One look at any of their social media feeds and it is readily evident how hard 2020 was.
When the call went out to support your favorite diner and restaurant it was a quick response. People have favorite hangouts and they wanted to make sure they survived. Of course, that was in the spring.
It is now the winter of a new year and everyone is talking local. Somehow we went from “support your local food truck” to a cascade about your “hometown” megamart. Bottom line? Local is hot… at least the word.
Support Means Action
Support means, naturally, dollars. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean eating out (although we encourage everyone to do that on occasion as well). There are lots of ways to support local businesses that lie hidden beneath their national veneer.
Take local banking. National and regional banks hire tellers, branch managers, and mortgage brokers, just like local credit unions and banks. However, these local institutions often find ways of financing local causes that bigger banks are either prohibited from or don’t find value in supporting.
This is true of investments, legal services, insurances, even nonprofits. There are a whole plethora of ways to support the local community beyond ordering a pizza.
So, here is the challenge: can you shift some dollars local? According to Point2Homes.com, there are around 348,000 households in Northwest Ohio. If we shifted $10 a month per household to a local business from a national chain that would be $3.5 million dollars per month. Just $10 per month per household. Basically a pizza. Now imagine if you shifted your car insurance from an online lizard to a local agent.
When gazing out at the ever-challenging landscape of 2021, you will hopefully find ways to spend dollars locally. It isn’t about buying products or services, it is about investing in the community which is, after all, an investment in yourself.