You may have a credit card in your wallet that gives you 1 percent back on all purchases, but that pales in comparison to the payback you get when you choose to shop local! Here are 10 benefits that you will receive when you choose to spend your dollars right here in your own community:
1. Sales tax revenue will be increased. The county and municipalities must work within their budgets to meet a wide variety of needs. An increase in sales tax revenue would mean that you would enjoy the benefits of greater funding to schools, law enforcement and fire departments, libraries, parks and recreation facilities, road maintenance departments, and many organizations that work to serve the most vulnerable segments of our population such as children, the elderly, those with disabilities, and residents faced with the challenges of poverty.
2. Property values will go up. It does not matter if you own residential or commercial property or even vacant land. If a wide variety of locally owned businesses are flourishing in your area, the community will be viewed as a desirable place to live, work, and play. This positive reputation will translate to higher values for your real estate.
3. More local jobs will be available. So much of our work force commutes outside of Blount County for employment. A strong local economic environment would result in the creation of more jobs right here close to home. This might make it possible for you to find a great job with a short commute that allowed you to work within your own community.
4. Non-profits will receive additional support. For everything from youth sports teams to charities to the arts and other non-profits that enhance the quality of life for all of our residents, our local businesses provide sponsorship and support in the form of donated materials, cash, and volunteer labor. If local businesses are seeing larger profits, they will be able to be of greater assistance when you approach them about the next fundraiser project.
5. The community develops its unique personality. Each successful locally owned business has its own character, which contributes to the overall aesthetic of the area. If Blount County is perceived to be an attractive and special place, people from outside of the county would actually come here to shop, play, eat, and give us their money. How great would that be?!?
6. People are encouraged to start new businesses. The success of local businesses would spur others to start that business that they have always dreamed of running. Perhaps you are that budding entrepreneur; or at the very least, you would have more shopping choices available.
7. You can make use of local expertise. Will that plant grow in my yard? Which t-shirt is my child’s team wearing? Are you sure these are the correct school supplies for this grade? These are the kinds of questions that business people in your local community can answer!
8. You will have a more diverse product selection available to you. Local small businesses all have different suppliers for their products. This means that you will have access to a wider variety of items.
9. You help to protect the environment. There are several ways that you can reduce your “carbon footprint” by shopping locally. For starters, you will consume less gas by driving a shorter distance. Also, local businesses are more likely to include locally sourced items in their inventory which would be an even bigger reduction of transportation fuel consumed.
10. Your money gets recycled. This is perhaps the single biggest benefit from making purchases in your own community. Money that you spend at local businesses is re-spent in the community on payroll and other business expenses. When those employees subsequently spend their paycheck locally, benefits one through nine listed above begin all over again. This is called the Local Multiplier Effect, and it tracks how many times a dollar is re-circulated in the community before it leaves the local economy. If we could increase the number of times each dollar is re-spent locally, it would have an enormous impact on the economic health of Blount County! This is the easiest and quickest way possible to improve the quality of life for everyone in our community!
In just the past few years, local shopping options have expanded dramatically. Men’s and women’s clothing and shoes, jewelry, household goods for both inside and outside your home, tools, pet supplies, wine and craft beers, fine art, handmade items, and one-of-a-kind gifts are just a few of the types of purchases that can be made right here in Blount County. If you are puzzled by what to give someone as a gift, consider art or music lessons or perhaps tickets to a local play. Friends and family on your Christmas list might appreciate receiving a gift certificate for a meal at one of our many excellent restaurants. You could also pick up a gift certificate for a facial, a pedicure or a massage, or maybe even a session of axe throwing. These are just a few of the many possibilities. There is a little something to make everyone happy right here in Blount County!
It may not be possible to find everything that you need locally, but this is not an all-or-nothing issue. Before heading out to go shopping, ask yourself if what you need is something that could be found locally. Even a modest increase in the number of local purchases that you make will make a big difference; and once you see how easy it is to do, it may become more of a habit.
As journalist Ben Speggen points out, “Money spent elsewhere fuels someone else’s fire. And we can’t warm our hands next to that fire.” Remember, you give yourself a gift every time you make a purchase by shopping local.