“It’s the people who shop at home who really make a business.”
That’s what Randy Butler, owner of Randy's Auto, told me earlier this year in an interview – and it’s true.
Locals who shop at home can make or break a business. Our little, local economy will thrive if we all shop at home a little more.
Here’s how: when consumers spend money at a local business, 67 cents of every dollar spent will stay in the local economy. That money gets spent over and over again.
When you spend money at a local business, they can afford to hire and pay employees. Those employees spend money which sends the money through a business again and the cycle restarts.
Compare that with shopping at a chain store. Only 40 percent of every dollar will stay in the local economy.
If we all leave the area, that’s zero percent of every dollar. Even the tax benefits go to other areas.
When you shop at home, no one sees the difference more than the owners themselves.
Melinda Redd of Jackalope Trading Company said, “Locals are the lifeblood of our store. They’re our friends and family.
“It means the world to us when they shop at Jackalope Trading Company and we love for them to know how much we appreciate them.”
Sarah Pipkin of Unique Creations added, “When you shop local, you help those of us who live here in your community make a living. I really appreciate all my customers!”
There seems to be a very select group of residents who understand and truly improve our communities by supporting local businesses.
Bayley Hedglin, Executive Director for the San Juan County Chamber of Commerce, said, “When you support local, you are supporting our local business owners and their families, and they are truly integral to the social fabric of these communities.
“From Chamber member tradesmen to shop owners, I know firsthand about how our local owners support us, as well as support each other.”
She added, “Beyond that, you are supporting the hiring and training of apprentices to increase our local labor market capacity and you’re helping to create jobs in the community to grow our local economy.”
Research shows that local businesses also donate 250 percent more than larger businesses to local, charitable causes.
“Our Chamber members use their resources strategically and do great things, like sponsoring our youth and their sports teams, supporting community projects, volunteering resources, and supporting our local service clubs and non-profits as they quietly help those in need,” says Hedglin.
Shopping local also means becoming a better steward of the land. Hedglin pointed out that shopping local also directly affects the social and environmental impact of an area.
“When you buy local, you are reducing our environmental impact,” she said. “Locally sourced and purchased products have a much lower carbon footprint, and our local business owners typically care more about protecting our local environment because they live here, too.”
Supporting small businesses is key to creating a thriving community. That’s why American Express started the Small Business Saturday event back in 2010.
Small Business Saturday is held on the Saturday following Thanksgiving to get consumers thinking about supporting local, small businesses. Since its inception 10 years ago, it has turned into more: a movement to “shop small.”
This makes a lot more sense in our small communities where many travel away for the Thanksgiving weekend.
Also, many of our local businesses close for the holiday weekend to spend time with family. Shopping at small businesses shouldn’t be a one-day event for us; we can support our local businesses any time of the year. There’s no better time than the upcoming Gingerbread House Tour.
If you can buy into the idea that supporting local businesses will also improve your community, there are some easy adjustments you can make to keep more money in the local economy.
Instead of ordering crafts or decor online, create your own custom, Pinterest-worthy dream decor from Unique Creations. They can do custom work cheaper than Etsy and other online craft sites.
Instead of buying manufactured clothing items with artificial materials, pick out some homemade winter items handmade from alpaca fiber from the Paca Pantry.
Instead of buying gift cards from a chain store, buy gift cards from local merchants (I asked – almost all of them offer a gift certificate or gift card of some kind).
Instead of buying plastic ornaments or gifts at a big box store, select a unique ornament from Jackalope Trading Company’s curated collection, or a beautiful, quality gift handmade by one of the Jackalope’s artisans.
Select custom jewelry from Artisan Jewelers, Jackalope, Hunt’s Trading Post and others.
Instead of ordering a book from Amazon, take a look at what the San Juan Record Bookstore has to offer. The local interest section can’t be beat!
Buy holiday decorations at The San Juan Pharmacy, Main Street Drug, Redd’s Ace Hardware or the Merc. The Merc even has a special on LED lights for the month of November and trees for 50 percent off.
Find used toys, clothes, and decorations at the local thrift stores, Gone Thriftin’ and Mimi’s Emporium.
Gift a local experience. Take a tour from Gouldings or hire Roam Industry to take you cross country skiing, rock climbing or biking.
Bring home flowers from the Flower Shop or Unique Creations.
Price out the cars at Randy’s Auto.
There is so much we have here! While we’re not going to stop shopping at the big box stores, changing our shopping behavior ever so slightly will help our little economy a ton.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from living here, it’s that the community members will be here for one another.
If there’s anywhere a small business should thrive, it should be here, in San Juan County, where we know and love the people who bend over backwards to make their businesses work.
Bayley Hedglin says it best: “When we buy local, we are supporting a strong local economy along with supporting the social fabric and environmental wellness of the area.
“By choosing local, you are helping to keep our communities across San Juan County strong, vibrant, and a place where we all want to live, work, and play.”
So stick that “shop local” decal on your dirty bumper. It really is that important.