American Independent Business Alliance

Top Reasons to Buy Local, Eat Local, Go Local

Why buy local? By choosing local and independent businesses, you not only enjoy a more personal experience, you help:

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!

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.

Independent businesses help give your community its distinct personality.

Local stores enable you to try on and try out items before you buy — and get real expertise — saving your time and money. To learn more on this topic, see 7 Ways Businesses and Communities Can Counter Showrooming

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)  

Reader surveys by the Consumers Union repeatedly show independent businesses beating their chain competitors in overall customer satisfaction (and often save you money).

A wide variety of independent businesses, each serving their customers’ tastes, creates greater overall choice for all of us.

The multiplier effect created by spending locally generates lasting impact on the prosperity of local organizations and residents. (source 6



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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.

Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local non-profits, events, and teams compared to big businesses. (source 5

Local ownership of business means residents with roots in the community are involved in key development decisions that shape our lives and local environment.

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


Are you starting or building a “buy local” campaign in your community? Get AMIBA’s free guide to doing it effectively!

Want to share this information on paper? Download flier (PDF)

This article also is offered in Spanish! Leer en Español

Look to see if there’s an Independent Business Alliance to join near you or learn more about launching a pro-local business initiative in your community.

Click to request our free guide to effective buy local campaigns


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.

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.

7. T. C. Blanchard, C. Tolbert, C. Mencken. “The health and wealth of US counties: how the small business environment impacts alternative measures of development.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 2011. Researchers studied 3,060 counties and parishes in the U.S. and found counties with a greater proportion of small businesses had lower rates of mortality, obesity and diabetes.
Goldschmidt, Walter R. (1947). As You Sow: Three Studies in the Social Consequences of Agribusiness. This landmark study compared two small nearby agricultural communities in California: one dominated by large agribusiness corporations, the other consisting of small owner-operated farms. The latter enjoyed a more vibrant, diverse economy and higher quality of life.

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.

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.

Share with others — Tweet this page!

Dig deeper into a key concept raised here: The Multiplier Effect of Local Independent Businesses

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While we provide these bullets on a single page to provide you a convenient and thorough reference, you should not! Local groups should scatter individual reasons throughout your materials or website. Your readers will absorb far more if they see these one at a time. We provide many free graphics (examples below) to make it easy for you to share the messages online or in print (just ask for 300 dpi files). Please link to this page for the full list and data sources (we keep it up-to-date with the best available data). This will help build your credibility and is better for your search engine rankings than copying or paraphrasing content).

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