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Buying local vs the big box –
In upstate New York, the community of Saranac had a very difficult decision, whether to allow the big boxes to come in or maintain their commitment to local stores. Because of the size of the community, there were quite a few specialty stores, but they were missing a department store for the basics such as underwear and socks.
Wal-Mart and other big boxes came with big promises of new developments and an economic boom. However, when the citizens looked at what would happen to the long-standing local stores, the citizens of Saranac decided to get creative. They started raising private investment money to build a store that would fill the needs of the community without competing against the current stores.
Although it took a few years to raise the money to open the store, today it is thriving and complementing the other stores around it. This has been a boost to the local economy and has helped create a stronger sense of community. http://www.community-store.org/
What are the economics behind how local stores help the local economy? According to a study done in 2003 by the Institute of Local Self Reliance of eight businesses in Maine and their revenues and expenditures the numbers are quite convincing. The results were compared to a big box store and the amount of money that ends up staying in the state and local economy. The results were surprising.
With the local businesses, their revenues amounted to $5.7M and employed 62 people. Of that $5.7M, 53.3% of the money stayed within the state. Comparing this to a big box store, only 14.1% of the money stayed within the State of Maine.
The local business also paid a higher percentage of revenue to employees. The local stores paid their employees 28.1% of revenue compared to 14.1% for the national chains.
Conclusion: local stores do more for their economy and their employees than the big box companies. Supporting these local businesses with independent brands creates jobs and strengthens the economies.