Back to school season will soon be upon us. That means school shopping and back to school sales. Whether you choose to send your kids back to school in a traditional classroom setting, or keep them home and choose non-traditional instruction until the COVID-19 crisis improves, you are going to have to buy certain school supplies. With the way kids grow and (if they’re like ours) how rough they are on clothing, you’re likely going to need to buy them new shoes and clothes whether you send them back for traditional instruction or keep them at home.
When you do go to buy those school supplies and new clothes, we highly recommend that you choose to buy them, as much as possible, from locally owned and operated shops and businesses. Sure, you might be able to find something at a big box store for a couple of dollars cheaper sometimes. But by the time you add in the extra gas and the extra time to run to a big box store in a neighboring city, or to the mall in a neighboring state, how much money are you really saving?
Even if, after accounting for the gas, the time, and the hassle of fighting the crowds, you do still end up saving a couple of dollars by making those trips, you have to ask yourself, “where does that money go?” In most cases the majority of it goes to big corporations that aren’t located anywhere near us. Some of it goes to employees in those other communities, and some of that might – in the best case scenario – make it back to our communities if those people choose to come to Grayson or Olive Hill to shop, or spend time at Grayson Lake or Carter Caves. But for the most part you are taking the money you are working hard for and sending it out of the area, in more ways than one.
If you choose to shop locally, however, your money does more than buy your kids’ school supplies, clothing, and shoes. It stays in your community longer and helps keep your friends, neighbors and relatives in work.
Depending on which source you look at, a local dollar spent in the local community can turn over up to seven times. There are economic studies that show that number may be a bit inflated, especially considering that – even when you shop local – some of the items you are purchasing came from producers outside the area.
The American Independent Business Alliance, however, reports that numbers from the private research firm, Civic Economics, show that 48 percent of each dollar spent in a locally owned independent business recirculates locally, compared to 13.6 percent of every dollar spent at a chain business. The same study showed that every $100 spent at a local independent business generated $45 of secondary local spending vs $14 for big box chain stores. A study in a Chicago neighborhood showed that for each dollar spent at a locally owned business, 68 cents stayed in that community. This was compared to 43 cents for chain stores.
Regardless of how you measure it, though, shopping locally has a better impact on your community than traveling to an outside community or choosing to purchase from a chain. As another popular saying notes, shopping with a chain company buys a CEO another yacht, shopping with a locally owned business pays a neighbor’s mortgage, buys a child piano lessons, and feeds a friend’s family.
When you make your shopping choices this year, we implore you to choose to shop locally whenever possible. The money you spend will go toward the paychecks of local people. The tax dollars collected on that payroll will go to improve the community you live in. And, if you need to return or replace an item, the person you will be dealing with will be someone you know. Someone who cares about their community – your community – and who has a vested interest in making things right. It’s in all our best interests to do so.