(The Power of Choice)

Every time you make a purchase, you are making a choice. The choice is OURS! We have the power to strengthen and enrich our communities. It’s that simple.

Short back story: I attended a Local First meeting this past spring  in Phoenix, Arizona. Truth be told it knocked my green socks off. I got to hear the human dynamo, Kim Lanning, State Director for Local First Arizona, provide to each of us irrefutable (and I mean try to shoot a hole in them) FACTS about why supporting locally owned businesses creates sustainable, financially healthy communities.

#1 Dollar Power
For every $100 spent in a locally owned business, $73 remains in the local economy and $27 leaves. (Think marketing, accounting, printing, local taxes, school, police, fire. You get the picture.) For every dollar spent in a non-locally owned business, $57 leaves and $43 stays. (Think centralized, corporate marketing, accounting, purchasing, supplies, signage.) Until I heard Kimber elaborate, I didn’t think about the ripple effect of how local store owners support each other thus keeping more money in our community.

#2 Local Works
A great study was done on the West Michigan Economy and the results of a TEN PERCENT shift to local spending created a massive economic impact! Blew my first green sock off. Ready? In a population of about 770,000, a 10% shift in spending created the following:

* $137 million in new economic activity.

* Over 1,600 new jobs.

* Over $50 million in new wages.

You might want to re-read this a few times but at the very least, I hope you will read it out loud to a family member, a co-worker or a friend. One Sock blown off yet?

(If you are a long fact finder or if this sounds downright wacky to you, here is the “down low ” download of the Local Works study in PDF format as an executive summary, or download the complete study.)

#3 The Feel Good Factor
Volumes of scientific research exists that prove that being happy improves your health, your quality of life, and in many cases, your longevity. Honestly – are you really surprised? So I am just adding my own reasons for why I support locally owned businesses. I like being greeted with a smile and perhaps even the owner sitting to chat for a minute while eating at a locally-owned restaurant. I like Hawk-no-borderbeing able to walk into our locally-owned camera shop and one of the guys who has been there forever actually remembers me, is aware of my technological challenges, does not try to upsell me and doesn’t mind repeating the instructions a few times. A Mr. Green share? He has learned more about the kinds of hawks we have in our fountain from The Wild Bird Store “guy” than you could ever learn from a book. Mr. Green is not a super-chatty kind of person but he always comes home from The Wild Bird Store with a fun, informative story to share. Gotta love that.

 Question: Ever walked out of a Super Walmart or Costco feeling great about a chat with the owner? Before you react, I know that some very nice people work in these places. But please don’t try to convince me it’s the same kind of feeling.