In 2008, the United States economy suffered what has been called the worst economic contraction since the Second World War. Like a mother going through labor pains, the country was gripped with startling uncertainty. What will our nation be like afterwards? What will be the product of these times?
The signs were all around, on street-side shops and decades old brick and mortar. They read of foreclosures, bankruptcy, and government bail-outs. Though times are improving, we are still only part of the way back to the economic success of the late 1990s and early 2000s. This is nothing but obvious to the average American eye as people watch stores that have been around for generations collapse under debt. They mutter to themselves, “What can we do to stop this?”
Before the once thriving entrepreneurship of America is left to waste away into the recesses of the collective national consciousness, there is one method in particular that can help bring back what America once was and what it should be in our future.
The “Buy Local” movement has grass-roots origins focusing on keeping dollars and cents as domestic as possible. As Time magazine writer Judith D. Schwartz wrote in June 2009: “Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going,” and funneling local dollars to corporate chains in order to reap the face-value benefits of low prices is letting that blood “flow out, like a wound.”
The reasons to keep your dollars local are numerous. Local purchases, as shown by Schwartz, allow the money supply in the community to keep flowing at a healthy rate and works towards strengthening the economic base local neighborhoods, towns, counties, and cities. This flow has additional beneficial consequences that will help get America back to where it should always have been.
For many towns, one-of-a-kind stores are a mainstay and focal point of their life. They make communities “someplace” rather than “any place.” The diversity of businesses is truly representative of the American ideal, creating unique communities that are woven together through the connected streets, combining to form the fabric of American society.
They help to create more jobs, decrease unemployment, and create better service, because rather than having an employee searching only for a paycheck, the workforce is made up of local citizens who are working to improve the overall quality of their community.
A little known fact is that non-profit organizations, on average, receive roughly two and a half times more support from small business owners than large businesses. This means that not only are your dollars spent doing good for your neighbors, but have the potential to provide aid and comfort to those around you in need.
Much of the time, independently-owned businesses price their merchandise competitively to that of their corporate counterparts. But for us as Americans, it is necessary that we accept the occasionally higher prices of our local, independently owned businesses, or that we make the effort to shop at several stores instead of getting all we need at a homogenized Big Box. Although there may be a few less dollars in our pockets, there will be that many more flowing through the communities we live in, allowing them to thrive, develop, grow, and diversify. It is less of a movement against big business, and far more of a movement in favor of the American dream, the one that has been lost as of late.
Neighborhood Corkboard is a grass-roots, advocacy organization dedicated to fighting for local mom and pop shops. Join the good fight. Go to www.neighborhood-corkboard.com and select your local Corkboard, or go directly to SF Corkboard at www.sf-corkboard.com.
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