It’s safe to say that the benefits of buying local far outweigh the convenience of buying from a big box store. When you shop in your community at local, independent businesses you are making a choice to help keep your city vibrant and unique.
At RTOWN, we all believe in and support those thriving streets lined with unique, small businesses that make up our amazing communities. If you’ve ever spent a weekend morning at Vancouver Farmer's Market – where children dance to live music, people catch up over local food and coffee, and vendors talk about their products with passion – you’ll know it trumps a quick trip to a grocery store to buy pineapples imported from Mexico. There’s something special in knowing where what you buy comes from, who produced it, and having a relationship with the people who are selling it.
Shopping local keeps our communities thriving, unique, and strong. How, you may ask?
The Economic Impact of Shopping Local
Research from LOCO, a local non-profit business alliance aimed at strengthening communities and growing the local economy, shows that BC local businesses create more than double the economic impact of their chain competitors. They re-circulate 2.6 times more revenue in the local economy as chains:
- Local retailers re-circulate 45% compared to 17% for chains
- Local restaurants re-circulate 65% compared to 30% for chains
- Local suppliers re-circulate 33% compared to 19% for chains
For every $100 spent with a BC local business, $46 is re-circulated back into our BC economy (vs $18 for multi nationals). This is because locally owned businesses circulate more dollars in the community compared to multinational organizations.
On top of recycled revenue, when you spend with a local business, you increase job opportunities as well. For example, if we shifted just 1% of consumer spending in BC annually, we’d create 3100 more jobs, that’s $94M in annual wages for BC workers.
How great does that daily encounter with your barista at the local coffee shop feel? A strong community is built by locally owned businesses that are dedicated to sustaining vibrancy and uniqueness and maintaining and building relationships. A part of what makes any community great is how well it preserves its own identity, be that culture, food, live music, or art. Local businesses have a vested interest in maintaining that identity, because they know it’s what keeps locals there and what attracts newcomers. Local businesses also support local events, sports teams and charities in the communities they operate in.
If you care about the environment, shopping local is one way you can help ensure your footprint is reduced. Studies have found that people who live near small stores walk more for their daily errands and their trips are shorter when they do drive. Local businesses use less land, are more likely to carry locally-made products and use local services, locate closer to residents and create less traffic and air pollution. A study done for Toronto’s Food Share program found that “while locally produced food items in the sample set travelled an average of 101 km, equivalent imported items moved an average of 5364 km. On the whole, the imported items were transported 81 times further than the local items”. Combined with trucking, refrigeration and packaging, it’s safe to say that food transportation is major contributor to air pollution, climate change, and waste.
For me, the easiest way to look at buying local is the above mentioned stat from LOCO, if we just shift just 1% of our consumer spending in BC, we can create 3100 new jobs and $94M in annual income – imagine if we could make that 5% or 10%?
If you’re interested in learning more about buying local and where to purchase local products, visit our partners at LOCO to find out more.