by Melissa Brunner
By now, you've probably hit at least one store in search of the perfect gift for someone on your list. Maybe you're even fortunate enough to have knocked out all your shopping before the calendar even turns to December. Congratulations if that's the case!
While you're out and about, I hope you add a few locally-owned stores to your list. I admit, the past few years especially, I've been all about hopping online to order gifts for my neices and nephews in Wisconsin. With free shipping, I can have it send right to their homes, which eliminates trying to pack them into the suitcase or car to transport them ourselves! But a recent eye-opener for me on how important it is to patronize locally-owned businesses came in researching and writing an article for TK Magazine.
You can read the entire article here: http://issuu.com/tkmagazine/docs/tk_winter_2012/1
A key point comes from an analysis by the group Civic Economics. It found that for every $100 spent in locally-owned, independent businesses, $68 goes back into the community. The same amount spent at a national chain put $43 back into the community. For online shopping, the amount is $0. The money is returned to the community through things like payroll and taxes. Plus, locally-owned businesses are more likely to use local support services such as accounting, advertising, legal counsel and office suppliers.
It's food for thought. Think about the locally-owned businesses our communities have to offer. If you don't know what's in your area, "The 3/50 Project" can help. It created a free LookLocal iPhone app, which offers a listing of independent businesses near your location. (Businesses need only register to be included.) What is The 3/50 Project? It encourages you to pick three independently-owned businesses and spend at least $50 each month among them. The project says that, if half the employed U.S. population took the challenge, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.
Are you up to the challenge? And give a shout-out to your favorite locally-owned businesses!