Top Reasons to Buy Local, Eat Local, Go Local
(with documentation to back them!)
By choosing local and independent businesses for your services, shopping, dining and other needs, you not only enjoy a more distinctive and personal experience, you’re helping:
The casual encounters you enjoy at neighborhood–scale businesses and the public spaces around them build relationships and community cohesiveness. (source 1, source 5) They’re the ultimate social networking sites!
STRENGTHEN YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY!
Each dollar you spend at independent businesses returns 3 times more money (source 2) to your local economy than one spent at a chain (almost 50 times more than buying from an online mega-retailer) — a benefit we all can bank on.
SHAPE OUR CHARACTER!
Independent businesses help give your community its distinct personality.
CREATE A HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT!
Independent, community-serving businesses are people-sized. They typically consume less land, carry more locally-made products, locate closer to residents and create less traffic and air pollution. (source 3) More on this topic: Buying Green Means Buying Local.
More efficient land use and more central locations mean local businesses put less demand on our roads, sewers, and safety services. They also generate more tax revenue per sales dollar. The bottom line: a greater percentage of local independent businesses keeps your taxes lower. (source 4)
A wide variety of independent businesses, each serving their customers’ tastes, creates greater overall choice for all of us.
INCREASE WEALTH OF RESIDENTS!
The multiplier effect created by spending locally generates lasting impact on the prosperity of local organizations and residents. (source 6)
CREATE JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES!
Not only do independent businesses employ more people directly per dollar of revenue, they also are the customers of local printers, accountants, wholesalers, farms, attorneys, etc., expanding opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY!
Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local non-profits, events, and teams compared to big businesses. (source 5)
ENHANCE LOCAL DEMOCRACY!
Local ownership of business means residents with roots in the community are involved in key development decisions that shape our lives and local environment.
ENHANCE HEALTH OF RESIDENTS!
Research shows a strong correlation between the percentage of small locally-owned firms and various indicators of personal and community health and vitality. (source 7)
Note: while we provide these bullets on a single page to provide you a convenient and thorough reference, we advise pro-local business groups to scatter individual reasons throughout your materials or website and not present a list. Your readers will absorb far more if they see these one at a time. We provide several free graphics to make it easy for you to share the messages online (ask for print-resolution versions) or in print.
Please link to this page for the full list and data sources. We regularly update with the best available data — this helps build your credibility (and helps you in search engine rankings compared to copying or paraphrasing content).
Want to share this information in person? Download flier here (PDF)
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1. “Scale of Agriculture Production, Civic Engagement, and Community Welfare” by T Lyson and R. Torres, Oxford Journals, 2001.
“The Configuration of Local Economic Power and Civic Participation in the Global Economy” by T. Blanchard and T. Matthews, Project Muse, 2006.
2. “The Multiplier Effect of Local Independent Business Ownership” provides an overview of the topic. The consulting firm Civic Economics has executed multiplier studies for many communities.
3. “Neighborhood stores: An overlooked strategy for fighting global warming” by Stacy Mitchell, Grist.
4. Fiscal Impact Analysis of Residential and Nonresidential Land Use Prototypes (pdf) – by Tischler & Associates, July 2002. Key findings: Specialty retail — primarily small neighborhood-located business — generate a net annual return to municipalities of $326 per 1,000 square feet of store space. Business parks, offices, and hotels also generated positive net revenue. However, the infrastructure and maintenance costs generated by big box retail outweigh tax revenues, resulting in a cost to taxpayers of $468 per 1,000 square feet of floor space each year. Fast-food outlets were the most burdensome development, costing taxpayers $5,168 per 1,000 square feet.
5. In a study for the Small Business Administration, Business Contributions to Community Service (1991), Dr. Patricia Frishkoff of Oregon State University analyzed charitable giving by firm size. She found companies with fewer than 100 employees gave an average of $789 per employee in cash and in-kind donations, compared to $334 per employee at firms with more than 500 employees.
6. In their 2011 study, Does Local Firm Ownership Matter? (Economic Development Quarterly), Stephan Goetz and David Fleming of Pennsylvania State University analyzed 2,953 counties of various demographics and circumstances. After controlling for unrelated factors, they found counties with more small, locally-owned businesses enjoyed greater per capita income growth. Greater concentrations of large absentee-owned businesses were associated with lowered incomes.
These and other related studies are covered well in this article by Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), whose website summarizes and links many more reports and studies relevant to these issues.
The “top ten” consists largely of language created for the first Boulder Independent Business Alliance directory in 1998, refined with ideas from the ILSR and others over the years (BIBA founder Jeff Milchen went on to create AMIBA with co-director Jennifer Rockne.) Contact AMIBA for comprehensive support in helping you instigate an effective and lasting “buy local” campaign. AMIBA also provides a series of four “Why Buy Local?” posters to deliver the message in your business or community.
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Dig deeper into a key concept raised here: The Multiplier Effect of Local Independent Businesses