What is “Supporting Local”?

This is something I’m noticing a lot of in my area as the current political topic is growth while maintaining our rural environment and not turning into a “city”. And a few discussions I’ve had, on social media and offline, also helped feed this blog post. There’s a few things people don’t understand entirely about supporting the “local” economy and about what exactly greed is. So let’s clear some things up, shall we?

Is It Profit Or Greed?

People are complaining about how much things cost “I remember when it was only $2″…..but that $2 cost was over 30+yrs ago. While at the same time “support local businesses, not these chains”. You are aware, local usually means small, right? Small usually means high cost because the bulk buying needed to keep their costs down, and buying power, that larger corporations have the little guy doesn’t. The reason Walmart can charge $1 for an item that the local guy charges $2.50 for is simply because Walmart can buy more, therefore lowering their price per item; giving them the ability to charge less then the local and still get the same amount of profit.

As a small biz owner myself, I’m all for supporting the local small businesses. But I’m having a hard time understanding how you can be cheap and still suggest to support local. Put your money where your mouth is and use local businesses; not next county over, not the big chains, your local businesses; without complaining about the price. No, buying from big chains is not supporting local; I’ll get to that in a minute. Just because you prefer a person over self-checkout does not mean you are supporting local.

And no, profit and greed are not the same thing. Greed is overpricing products/services and underpaying staff to maximize profits. Profit is why the owner(s) started the business in the first place. Businesses weren’t opened as a charity. The owners fully expect that business to pay for itself and provide their salaries. You go to work and expect a paycheck to pay your bills, right? Business owners are no different. They show up everyday making those products and/or providing those services and, just like you, deserve a paycheck to pay their bills. That cost you’re complaining about covers all their overhead and their personal “take home” salary. It costs money to prepare products and/or provide services. That needs to be recouped plus profit so they can afford their lives just like you go to work to afford your life.

There’s always the “friend” or “guy I heard about” that can do shit cheaper. Well, is it quality? Are they legally operating? Unregistered low-quality moon-lighters will always exist. But you can’t use an unregistered poor quality service or product and then complain when it’s not what you expected/wanted.

I’m not saying greed doesn’t exist. It does, in all sizes of business. But not every business that has pricing you feel is too high is greed. You don’t know the costs that business has to produce those products or provide those services. And quality does generally cost more then the run of the mill. If you were looking for a contractor to work on your home, would you want the guy that’s licensed and insured and produces quality work, or the “friend of a friend” that can do it cheaper? If you answer the guy that produces quality work and is licensed/insured, you should expect it will undoubtedly cost more. Why? The contractor is using quality materials to complete the job, has overhead expenses (licensing, insurances, registration, staff, etc all cost money), and because it’s his livelihood he’s putting in the effort to make sure it comes out exactly how you want it. The “friend of a friend” may save you money, but the materials will be low quality, the job most likely won’t have the same effort put into it, and it may not turn out how you want and definitely won’t last as long as the work of the professional.

If you really support local, prove it and stop complaining about pricing. And please stop saying prices today are greed because they’re higher then what you paid 30+yrs ago. If the businesses costs went up to produce those products or provide those services, then it’s only logical to assume the end cost on the consumer would also go up. That’s not greed.

Local Economy Vs Supporting Local

Another bit of confusion is basic economics. In a recent social media discussion someone said to use local establishments, not online, to keep money in the local economy. Saying online doesn’t employ locals, and that that is why they also don’t use self-checkouts. This is a very common bit of confusion a lot of people have about what supporting local actual means.

Yes, avoiding self-checkout at stores and other kiosk type instruments at other businesses, always using an associate or representative to assist you, to a degree does help secure the jobs of the people at that location. However, it would require a larger percentage of each locations customers to use people over the machines to make any considerable impact in whether or not the company is going to cut jobs at that location or not in favor of machines. Secondly, there is a big difference between attempting to secure local jobs and actually supporting local.

Yes, big chains do have to pay taxes to the city/county they’re in, and do provide jobs. However, the bulk of the profits do not stay local; all that’s staying local is taxes and employees income…that’s it. Supporting big chains is really only saving you money over local businesses, and putting local businesses out of business. Supporting local in it’s truest form is supporting local business. Supporting your local business:

  • You’re supporting job creation that gives locals work
  • You’re supporting keeping 100% of the money generated in the local economy (registration, taxes, payroll, profits all remain local)

You’re doing much more to support your neighbors and local economy by choosing to spend your money with locally owned businesses and helping them grow so they can hire more of your and their neighbors, friends, and family. Keeping that much more revenue in the local economy and creating a local economy that doesn’t need to rely on big business for simply for jobs. In the long run, you are doing your local economy a huge disservice supporting big chains over local small businesses. Those big chains have a history of destroying and impoverishing once great communities that were thriving with small businesses until the big chains showed up and put them out of business.

Just an extra side piece to think about, just because a company is primarily online doesn’t mean they’re not local. There are plenty of businesses that are solely or mostly online in nature, but their your neighbors. They could be dropshipping, web designers, “ghost kitchens”, small printers, etc. Before you decide to not use an online company simply because they’re online, see where they’re based out of. It could be your neighbors business.

Many commutites don’t even realize how many small businesses they actually have. There are actually enough small businesses in most areas that you don’t need Walmart, UPS, etc. There are small businesses in every industry, that if more people in the community used, each of these businesses could create an intricate network and job creation that could essentially make the local economy completely independent of big business. And more revenue would stay local with more overall jobs created then we have relying on big business that are downsizing staff and bringing on more and more automated workflows to replace they’re staff.

In Conclusion…

If you truly believe in supporting your local economy and local jobs, the best way to do so is through supporting your local small businesses. New local businesses are popping up everyday in every industry. Find them, use them, promote them. In doing so, you’ll be supporting the local economy in the truest possible way and helping to create more jobs locally and keep more money in the local economy then big business ever could or would.



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