By Christa Penner | BN360 Spotlight Professional, August 2019
I’m the owner and managing member of ShopCraft, a community and team of local artisans. Our team lives and works within 90 miles of our Elmwood Avenue shop. This was one of many determining factors when designing the ShopCraft collective and working to grow it. For us, it is important to give artist members of our greater community an opportunity to sell their work on a daily basis, helping them to grow their maker business and livelihood. We saw the many advantages of creating a local business that gives consumers the opportunity to support several local businesses at one time.
The advantages of supporting local businesses and makers include community development, concentrated economic impact, and a reduced carbon footprint. Local businesses increase local employment. Locally sourced and purchased goods do not require the massive carbon footprint created by container ships, trains, or trucks typically used by major retailers for importing goods and ingredients. The last mile is the only mile.
The Economic Impact of Supporting Local Business
Several studies show the multiplier effect of spending your hard earned dollars locally. When you walk into a local retail shop and make a purchase, you directly support that shop. Your spending in turn supports other local businesses and employees that the shop uses to run their business. Purchasing from a business that sells locally made goods multiples that impact. Makers and artisans purchase raw materials, often from local companies, and sometimes employ local people. Additionally, the owners and employees of the shop put that money back into the local economy when they spend at local businesses, too. Locally owned businesses are also more likely to make a donation to a local non-profit that directly impacts your community. The continued circulation of money within the community creates a stronger economy, a better place to live with more employment opportunities and a richer variety of businesses and services to enjoy.
The Environmental Impact of Supporting Local Businesses
Shopping local is more eco-friendly in many ways. There is pollution and fuel consumption associated with transporting purchases from across the world. Furthermore, factories in foreign countries are not subjected to American emission standards, nor ingredient/raw material safety regulations. As an example, lead paint is not outlawed in all industrial countries. Local makers and artisans control their raw materials and workplace environment. They create, use and promote their products, ensuring both safety and efficacy.
The Community Impact of Supporting Local Businesses
Small local businesses are typically located in city-centers reducing sprawl, increasing access through walkability and public transit, and reducing pollution. Walking communities provide a richer quality of life for those living and working in that neighborhood. The owner of a small local business is often present and are therefore more likely to keep up with the appearance of the building and grounds. A local business supports a property owner, employs neighbors, adds to the municipal tax base, supports local organizations and prevents the blight of abandoned storefronts. Walkable communities are consistently the most desirable, diverse and stable.