I consider us lucky – Monadnock Buy Local, that is – that key players in the local economy movement continually ask, “Is our work making a difference?” and “Why is our work important?”
Tackling the former question first, there is strong evidence that our work is, in fact, strengthening locally owned businesses.
That evidence comes from the eighth annual Independent Business Survey led by the Institute for Local Self Reliance and the Advocates for Independent Business. This year’s survey garnered responses from 3,057 businesses across North America, all independent and locally owned. We’re proud that thirty-nine of these responses came from Monadnock Region businesses.
What positive impacts did this survey highlight?
More people are embracing the Buy Local Message: Independent businesses reported revenue growth of 8.1% on average in 2014 (compared to 5.1% across the entire retail industry). Monadnock Region independent businesses reported an average of 10.3% growth.
Buy Local Alliances drive more people to Buy Local: Sixty-nine percent of businesses located in cities with active Independent Business Alliances / Local First campaigns reported increased customer traffic and other benefits from these initiatives. They reported sales growth of 9.3% on average in 2014, compared to 4.9% for businesses in places without such an initiative.
Shift Your Shopping and Plaid Friday influenced holiday shoppers: The retailers surveyed experienced a 4.8% average increase in holiday sales, beating many competing chains (holiday sales for all retail businesses actually fell 0.9% this year). Retailers in the Monadnock Region experienced a 10.8% increase in holiday sales.
“The efforts of Monadnock Buy Local to promote the benefits of shopping at locally owned businesses are certainly evident in our stores,” stated Willard Williams, co-owner of The Toadstool Bookshops. “Many, many people told us they were doing all their holiday shopping locally. Plaid Friday, Shift Your Shopping — I’m confident all this contributed to the 11% increase in December sales at our bookstore in Keene.”
Read the full 2015 Independent Business Report on our website.
Now on to the second question: Why is our work important?
Once again, we can turn to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for an answer and use their Top 10 Reasons to Support Locally Owned Businesses list (reprinted with permission):
Local Character and Prosperity: In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.
Community Well-Being: Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.
Local Decision-Making: Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.
Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy: Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.
Job and Wages: Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.
Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.
Public Benefits and Costs: Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.
Environmental Sustainability: Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
Competition: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long term.
Product Diversity: A number of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantee a much broader range of product choices.
Learn more from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
Our work is important and it is making a difference! We are retailers, wellness providers, architects, bankers, chefs, farmers, grocers, artists and more – and we invite you to join with us to make even more of a difference. Individuals can support our work as Citizen Members. Learn more about membership today.