By now, I am sure most of you have seen the message on our electronic sign board, “Shop Local. Creston First.” It is a reminder to support our local businesses whenever possible. These local businesses are owned by our neighbours and friends, pay local taxes, employ family members, purchase products from other local businesses, and support our local organizations and charities. They are an integral part of what makes our community “ours”.
Following are a top 10 list of reasons why you should shop Creston first (adapted from Local First, an organization aimed at promoting sustainable economic development).
1. Local economic stimulus
When you purchase at locally owned businesses, more money is kept in the community because locally owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as the local tax base.
2. Non-profits receive greater support
Local business owners donate more to local charities than non-local owners. Where would our community be if we didn’t have the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors or the Gleaners or youth sports teams or any of the other local groups that add to our enviable quality of life in the Creston Valley? Many of them couldn’t exist without the generous donations from local businesses. How often do you ask a local business for a donation? When was the last time you asked an out-of-town business for a donation?
3. Unique businesses create character and prosperity
The unique character of our local community is defined in large part by the businesses that reside here, and that plays a big factor in your overall satisfaction with where you live and the value of your home and property.
4. Environmental impact is reduced
Small local businesses usually set up shop in the town centre, providing a centralized variety that is much friendlier to a community’s walk score than out of town shopping malls. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
5. Most new jobs are provided by local businesses
Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally. Plus, the more jobs you have in your local community, the less people are going to have to commute, which means more time and less traffic and pollution.
6. Customer service is better
Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise for better customer service. You are also going to see these people around town and they are less likely to blow you off or be rude because they have to face you day after day.
7. Local business owners invest in community
Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave and are more invested in the community’s welfare and future. They not only sponsor local events and donate to local organizations, but also sit on local boards (see the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors, for example) and committees.
8. Public benefits far outweigh public costs
Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure and more efficiently utilize public services relative to chain stores.
9. Competition and diversity lead to more consumer choices
A marketplace of hundreds of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.
10. You matter more
We talk a lot about exerting influence with your purchasing choices, or “voting with your wallet”. It’s a fact that businesses respond to their customers, but your values and desires are much more influential to your local community businesses than the large big box stores.
Jim Jacobsen is the executive director of the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at 250-428-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.