Yes, Virginia- Small towns and 'Shop Local' DO matter.
Yesterday I was part of "Hometown Holiday Happenings" in a nearby town-the first in decades. This event was combined with a Shop Small/ Shop Local campaign. It was my pleasure to volunteer my time and have some input on fun ideas.
While we were waiting for the lighted parade to start, a couple ladies were talking about how this town initiated a Shop Small campaign for that Saturday- One lady, a long time resident, said "Small towns shouldn't even participate in Shop Small Saturday. It's a waste of everybody's time and effort"
(This is where I may have gotten a little animated!)
WHAT???? How can it be a waste of time and effort????
After spending many years championing small and rural communities, creatively brain-storming with them to discover all they do have, and working with small businesses, I get a little excited about the subject.... But ~let's get back on track~
The nice lady honestly felt that most people did nearly all their holiday shopping, big purchases and specialty shopping in the big city 40 miles up the road. So what did it matter??
Well- it does matter! Small towns and the businesses with-in depend on locals shopping there. Small businesses give more of their time and money to local causes and events than any major corporation ever will. ( local businesses donate an average of 10+% to local causes vs the 2% of major companies- it just looks like more because the initial number is so high, but when compared to their incomes, it is nothing compared to what small businesses give) Think about what would happen if those local businesses you count on to be supporters of ball teams, food banks and 4-H suddenly quit giving.
Events like Small Business Saturday, Shop Local, Hometown Pride, 50/3 and so on, help keep local businesses in the forefront. When we don't shop our local stores, they in turn have less revenue and will need to raise prices on what they do sell to make ends meet. They will also have to lay off employees if they have them, and that too means less money flowing in town. Those employees get paid and spend part of their hard earned in town- at the cafe, the market, the gas station, hardware store, movie theater, etc. When those folks that were let go have to leave town for work, they will spend their money in the town they found work in. NOT in your town.
Did you have any idea how many small business owners will work extra hours themselves 'for free' to make sure there is enough money to pay their one employee??
When we don't support our local stores, they close. Empty buildings are harder to sell/rent. Empty buildings lead to lower property values and a depressed Main Street, which screams very loudly
"DON'T DO BUSINESS HERE! NO ONE WILL SUPPORT YOU"
If small businesses didn't participate in events that highlighted them, would you remember they are there? Do you know-I mean really know, what all your town has for retail and service based businesses? Do you ask around for who has what and where before you head 'to the city'?
Don't get me wrong, there's no law against shopping outside of your own town. I know that very few, if any, communities will every single thing you want. But try to remember all your dollars provide for when they're spent locally. Read a more about that here: Stop & Shop Local
Think about it- Life changes on a dime ( we know!)- what IF you suddenly couldn't just jump in your car and go 'to town'? Would that change how you feel about what you do have?
Shopping local may mean your own town, your own neighborhood if you live the city - I grew up in a city where every neighborhood had it's own shops as well as the big malls further out- or own circle of towns. It may mean that when you are traveling you choose the local Rexall on Main Street for sunscreen over the BigBox up on the highway.
Small businesses and small towns should participate in events that champion them. Not only is it a chance to showcase all they do have, and maybe attract some new business to boot, it also builds community- people are out and about. Talking. To each other.
When people talk, community happens.
So yes Virginia, Small towns and Shop Local DO matter.