When asked to name her favorite local business, local retail consultant Allison Barta Bailey likens it to a parent being asked to choose a favorite child. Bailey simply explains, “I have too many favorites to name!”
In addition to being her passion, Bailey says that local shopping is crucial to the growth and expansion of our city.
“If we want our community to continue to develop, we have to offer something that other communities don’t,” she says. “Our local business scene is something that’s unique to our city for travelers, and provides quality and convenience for residents.”
Bryce Bandy, co-founder of Keep It Local OK (keepitlocalok.com) agrees.
“Since local businesses are not tied to any national sales or marketing strategies, we will get a wider variety of products and services from Oklahomans for Oklahomans. This also means you won’t run into the exact same mix of restaurant and retail anywhere else.”
Not to mention the economic benefits of shopping locally, a fact to which Bandy is quick to attest.
“Local shopping is crucial to our continued growth because the success of local businesses attracts and encourages other entrepreneurs to start local businesses, which leads to more jobs and revenue re-circulating throughout our community.”
Doing the Math
The math for buying close to home is compelling—for every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $73 remains in the local economy. Compare that to the same $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, where only $43 remains in the local economy. Recent research from Civic Economics (civiceconomics.com) indicates that local eateries return nearly 79 percent of revenues to the community, compared to just over 30 percent for chain restaurants.
“When profits stay local, it increases the community’s wealth, tax revenue and standard of living,” Dr. Sue Lynn Sasser, professor of economics at the University of Central Oklahoma, says.
“Small businesses and local businesses are still the backbone of our economy,” Sasser adds. “They are local people serving local people and are generally committed to staying there, raising their families. After all, most businesses started out as a small, local business and earned the success of growing and expanding. It’s the American Dream.”
Here are 15 reasons to keep your cash close to home:
- Keep Money Local—Sales taxes fund our communities and provide vital services such as police and fire protection, street repairs and trash collection.
- Local Investment—Local businesses are less susceptible to national downturns and more likely to work harder to stay open. “Local ownership means that important decisions are made by people who live in our community and feel the impact of those decisions,” explains Chris Branson, co-founder of Keep It Local OK.
- Locally-Made Products—Local business owners often sell local products, which helps preserve the community’s distinction and creates more jobs locally, as well.
- Support for Nonprofits—Local businesses support good work in our community. “Studies show that nonprofits receive 250 percent more support from small businesses than large ones,” explains Dr. Sue Lynn Sasser, professor of economics at the University of Central Oklahoma.
- Discover Interesting Things and People—“One-of-a-kind shops and restaurants are part of what makes our city a great place to live,” Branson adds.
- Personal Connection—Getting to know the store owners is a great reason to shop local. “It’s their business, they are the decision-makers and they build a personal relationship with their customers,” Sasser says.
- Product Knowledge—Local business owners are well informed about their products and know what they are selling. “Because they know their customers, they can easily adjust their inventories to include the goods and services local people want to buy,” Sasser explains.
- Diverse Products—Local stores carry inventory you might not find at national chain stores. “Local business owners choose products based on what their customers want and often carry unique items from local artists and farmers,” Branson says.
- Cost Effective—“Sometimes prices at local businesses are better because they don’t have the overhead that larger stores may have and they may be more willing to negotiate to meet your price needs,” Sasser says.
- Better Experience—Local shopping can translate to more convenient retail experiences.
- Less “Leakage”—Local businesses tend to buy and sell with other local businesses. “With national or multi-national firms, a percentage of that profit ‘leaks’ out of the community, the state or even the nation,” Sasser notes.
- Increased Expertise—Shopping at a local store means you can get an expert opinion about the products that you’re purchasing. “Local shop owners have to be experts in their field to compete. Use them—ask them questions and get advice about products,” Bailey encourages.
- Create Community—“We are a transitory society so people don’t always have a connection with the communities where they live. I would encourage people new to an area to ask the locals where they shop,” Sasser says.
- Better Service—Local business owners do what they do because they are passionate about their products and typically take more time to get to know their customers. “They’ll often go the extra mile to help you and to ensure you’re a satisfied customer,” Sasser says.
- Support Future Growth—Our experts agree on the last reason—shopping locally is the best way to show pride in your city and help protect the businesses that make our city unique.
“We can’t simply say ‘Shop Locally!’ and keep our economy vibrant and healthy,” Harris explains. “We have to take the time and spend the money to support local businesses with our presence and our dollars. You really do vote with your wallet, and shopping locally casts your vote for Oklahoma City. As a local business owner, it makes me immensely happy to have the opportunity to help shape what Oklahoma City becomes.”
“Shopping locally is a big part of what our family is,” Harris concludes. “Not just because we own a small business, but because we feel it is such a big part of helping to create a great city for our son to grow up in.”
Want to know our reader favorites? Here is a collection of reader-selected best places to shop in the metro.
Brooke Barnett was the assistant editor and online content manager at MetroFamily Magazine.