Independence Dreams: Support Locals

Kasey Cox
Bookmatchmaker. Lover of cats, old quilts, ugly sweaters. Proud wife, sister & auntie, daughter.

Jul 03,2018

There’s an internet meme being shared around a lot lately. The meme varies a little, and may or may not be attributed to the original author, Rebekah Joy Plett. In essence, the saying encourages us to buy things created by independent artists, authors, musicians, and crafters. These things, this meme reminds us, “aren’t just … a THING”. When you buy this artist’s creation, you’re buying a piece of someone’s life. You’re sharing in a private moment, where this artist is opening their heart and you are, too, so you both can connect over this work.

Furthermore, “you are buying hundreds of hours of experimentation and thousands of failures. You are buying days, weeks, months, years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are buying nights of worry about paying the rent, having enough money to eat, having enough money to feed the children, the birds, the dog….  Most importantly, you are buying that artist more time to do something they are truly passionate about; something that makes all of the above worth the fear and doubt; something that puts life into living.”

As I’ve seen this quote circle the internet, it strikes me every time how much these words describe not just art, but also the work of owning a small business. Most entrepreneurs who have walked the path of starting their own business from scratch know the experience of building it over the days and weeks and hoping for the years, nearly living in their business some days in order to get just a few more tasks accomplished, learning to wear many different hats. Rebekah Plett’s meme about the blood, sweat, tears of the process apply to small businesses as well.

It’s important, however, not to appeal to your customers from a position of guilting them into buying, as though they are supporting your art or your small business because you beg. Be proud of the art that you do, and what your small business represents, because of the passion and hours you put into it.

It’s also essential to realize that artists and independent businesses give back more to their communities than many people may even realize — even the small business owners themselves! The American Booksellers Association works with other “shop local” organizations to study the impact of small businesses on their communities. They publish a wonderful poster for bookstores to use, based on the findings of many studies on the economic impact of such businesses.

Here’s What You Just Did!” the flyer proclaims to the customers of small businesses.

*Kept money in our local economy: The studies show that for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $68 of that stays local, as opposed to spending that $100 at a chain store, where about $43 stays in the area. Guess what happens when you shop online?

*Created local jobs: local businesses create jobs for their neighbors, and tend to take better care of their staff because they matter to each other. They’re more willing to hire local kids for their first summer job, internship, or holiday and after-school work.

*Helped the environment: buying from local folks usually conserves energy and resources, in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging from shipping

*Nurtured community:  Local businesses create the opportunity for neighbors to know each other, by creating places to work and spend time together. Studies have also shown that local businesses donate to community causes more than twice as much as chain stores. (Just hop on down to your nearest Amazon fulfillment warehouse next time you want a donation for that spaghetti dinner to raise money for your cousin’s cancer treatment or your kid’s baseball uniforms and see how that goes.)

*Conserved your tax dollars: Local business districts don’t force communities to give big tax breaks for chain stores to move in; they move into existing infrastructure to maintain and beautify it. Too many online sellers — especially the big corporations — are still avoiding paying sales tax altogether.

*Made our area a destination:  The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we attract new neighbors, visitors, and guests! This benefits everyone!

These are just the highlights of all the benefits of supporting your neighbors’ businesses and buying their creations. Remember the overall, long-term investment you’re making, because you vote more with your dollars than you may realize.

Other articles by this author