Kevin Jones April 21, 2020 You often hear us in the payments and financial technology industries as we implore you to shop local, supporting your community’s small businesses that include restaurants, bars and breweries, salons, and boutique shops. Too often, this imperative is misunderstood as a feel-good marketing campaign.
But make no mistake, the shop local movement is about something very real. It’s how we build more vibrant, sustainable communities that meet our needs, economically, culturally, and by virtually any measure of quality of life, whether you’re in places the size of Los Angeles, Nashville, Greenville, South Carolina, or my tiny hometown of West Jefferson, North Carolina.
The numbers don’t lie. There are nearly 30 million small businesses in America, and they employ nearly two-thirds of the workforce. If you’re looking purely to make an economic impact directly in the lives of your friends, neighbors, and fellow church-goers, you really couldn’t have a better strategy than eating at that family-owned restaurant, having your car repaired with your hometown mechanic or dealership, or getting that spa treatment at the beauty shop around the corner. Your locally-spent dollars keep people employed and keep the economy progressing in normal times, and they are helping these folks survive in the unprecedented times since the outbreak of COVID-19.
As if that weren’t enough, shopping local, eating local, and drinking local goes way beyond helping your individual neighbors and friends. Out of every dollar you spend locally, 67 cents stay in your community. Furthermore, that same dollar is taxed at a local level up to four times, on average. Think about everything your tax dollars pay for in your community: schools; roads, parks and greenways; the arts; parades and community events; loans and grants for startups; programs to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless, and much, much more.
It’s been noted in study after study that promoting small businesses strengthens the middle class, reduces income inequality, creates local supply chains, achieves higher wages and benefits, bolsters civic and social well-being, and makes business simply fairer in pricing and terms. When I was forming my plan for Celero nearly two years ago, I decided to double down on my belief in the resilience and sustainability of American small business. I knew we’d face hard times again, but like many, I didn’t think it would happen so soon.
But my belief is rooted in the knowledge that we are, in fact, all in this together—in good times and bad. For all of us who want our communities to survive now and thrive when good times are here again (and I’ll bet that survey would yield somewhere near 100 percent of us), we need to act like we do at church. Let’s have our behaviors exemplify our beliefs. Even in times of social distancing, we can support our beloved small, local businesses. Utilize curbside, takeout, and delivery services whenever you can, and buy virtual gift cards to invest in these businesses when you can’t.
Let’s get through this by focusing on the health of our families and friends and by extending a hand to those small businesses that mean so much to our way of life. Let’s work together to save our neighbors and save our communities.