Supporting local businesses
When the news of Amazon's bid to acquire Whole Foods came out a few months ago, I was surprised to learn that the biggest American grocer is Walmart. Apparently, Walmart has been averaging a 20% share in the U.S. food market and that is more than twice as much as the second runner, while Whole Foods’ share is about 1.2%.
Although where you buy your food is a personal choice, it is important to understand the long-term benefits of buying local:
- Many studies show that there is a higher return rate to the community for the amount that you spend at local businesses than at national chains.
- Local businesses create higher paying jobs than the low-pay retail jobs that national chains bring.
- You can eliminate a huge amount of emissions, packaging and processing when you buy from local stores.
- Local businesses have a higher rate of recycling.
- Local businesses build community.
- Local fresh produce tastes better because it is fresher - and it lasts longer!
People prefer to live near local businesses. Everybody complains when local businesses are replaced with national chain stores. Yet, we are attracted by the unbeatable low prices that the big box stores sometimes offer. It is only natural to go with the best deal. The good news is though that you don’t have to shift all your shopping to local businesses to support them. The RI foundation says that “shifting just 10% of the purchasing that Rhode Island shoppers do from chains to independent, locally owned businesses has the potential to add $373 million to our state's economy.” Maybe your neighborhood store around the corner will stay for another generation if you spend at least 10% locally :)
Vote with your money. Happy shopping!
-Toyoko Schieferdecker - volunteer blogger, member-owner