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Shop Small, Shop Local, Start Today

by Anne Dowling Caputo
November 2017

I’m delighted to see private business owners and local community leaders coming together to promote Shop Small®, Shop Local, a local/regional economic development campaign.

Do you bank locally? Do you eat at locally-owned restaurants? Do you think about patronizing a local store before heading to a big box store? How you spend your dollars directly effects the economy – both locally and regionally. It is directly related to job retention and job creation, along with building a healthy, vibrant community rich in services and amenities.

Cleveland Heights’ Coventry business district

Did you know that if every person in Cuyahoga County would shift just one hundred dollars of their spending to locally-owned business, it would add 126 million dollars to the local economy and create 874 new jobs?  The economic impact of that hundred dollars spent in the locally-owned stores is about 80% greater than if it was spent at a chain store.

Many people think that shopping local is too expensive; it really isn’t. Often you have to drive out of your way to get to a chain store when you could actually find the same item right in your own neighborhood. There’s a cost to that. 

For some items, you can choose between the chain-owned business and the locally-owned one.  For example, we all buy gas for our vehicles. The price at a corporate station might be five to ten cents cheaper than the locally-owned station across the street. That’s a difference of just $2.00 to fill a twenty-gallon tank. Isn’t the vibrancy of our local community worth that extra couple of dollars? 

Businesses traditionally spend down their advertising budgets in November to build hype around Black Friday and the holiday selling season. Are there hidden costs involved in scoping out the best price?  You bet there are. Your time and energy are valuable too. 

This year, I invite you to not get caught up in the hype. Let’s kick off a new mindset to shop, dine and donate locally, with Small Business Saturday® on November 25th, Cyber Monday on November 27th, and Giving Tuesday on November 28th.

Small Business Saturday is a wonderful American Express initiative. Shop at the local hardware store or grocery store. Eat at the locally-owned restaurant or diner. Give gift cards from a locally-owned spa, restaurant, or retailer. Consider a membership to one of Cleveland’s many museums or to the zoo. Give concert tickets or theatre tickets. Purchase a host/hostess gift from a local-producing winery, brewery, candy shop or bakery. There are many local artists and shops where one-of-a-kind gifts can be found. And don’t forget to patronize the many business-to-business concerns for supplies and services that support your business.

Especially consider shopping local on Cyber Monday, the big post-Thanksgiving online shopping campaign that promotes the convenience of internet shopping. Try Googling the item you’re looking for, plus “Cleveland” or “Ohio.”  For example, search for “Ohio artisan cheese;” or “chocolate in Cleveland.” One champion of small local business is celebratelocalohio.com, where you can shop by category from various small Ohio vendors. You many pay a bit more, but recirculating money locally stimulates the economy and flows to a stronger business environment, better schools and higher income growth overall.

On Giving Tuesday, contribute to the local food bank, homeless shelter, foundation, research facility, children’s home or one of so many other worthy local charities. The money given to local charities benefits not only those in need, but the local economy as well. “Charity begins at home”, so let’s bolster our community by first donating locally. 

Begin today to invest in our community and region – we will all end up richer for it!

Anne Dowling Caputo is the owner of J.A.C. Business Communications, Inc., a full service direct mail and commercial printing company expert in supporting businesses and non-profit organizations. Active in a number of community and small business organizations, Anne is a dedicated member of HRCC’s board of directors, and past chair and long-time sponsor of our annual Business Expo.