As a city, we constantly talk about community investment and what we as individuals can do to support one another day-to-day. During holidays, we have an opportunity to catalyze our communities and our relationships by way of “purchasing power.” We can further invest in our neighborhoods by making conscious decisions about where we shop and who we develop new/old relationships with in that process. Local businesses economically revitalize our community and the people who run these Main Street shops and restaurants are both neighborhood residents and community partners. Their economic success hinges on our shopping habits and a large portion our community’s development hinges on a thriving local business landscape.
In a recent study done by Maggie Anderson, CEO and co-founder of the Empowerment Experiment, one economist found that in the Asian community, a dollar circulates among local shop owners, banks, and business professionals for up to 28 days before it’s spent with outsiders. In the Jewish community, a dollar circulates for 19 days. In the African-American community, a dollar is gone within six hours.
A few numbers to consider. Our small businesses provide us with a backbone of employment and create a scene for investment and growth. For every $100 that we spend as community members at local businesses, $73 is retained within our local economy. In non-locally owned businesses, only $43 of the $100 is retained on the local level. Local businesses are more likely to support local nonprofits, their vendors are also usually local distributors, and small business owners are the largest employers nationally.
It’s our responsibility not only as consumers, but as active citizens and community members to reciprocate the investment that these business owners make in our neighborhoods. As we approach this holiday season, we encourage all of you to seek out these businesses, to create a holiday investment plan (a rewrite of your holiday shopping rituals), and to tell us how and which businesses you choose to invest in during this holiday season.
Take a look at some of these local champions of local and independent businesses, Boston Main Streets, Cambridge Local First, Somerville Local First, and the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, and check out a few of our favorite local shops and spots: