By: Laura Walton AFC®
I’m price sensitive. I know that I can’t save what I spend and I can’t invest what I don’t save. Every dollar that passes through my hands is important…or has the potential to be important. A by-product of being a careful spender is that you can be strategic with the dollars you do spend.
I need to get a poster framed for our Center for Personal Finance classroom. My choice is the local framing store nearby (more expensive?) or the national store on my way home (less expensive?). And, as a non-profit, I want to be mindful of our budget. But an article I read in the May-June issue of edible Baja Arizona about Tucson’s Station 4 Firefighters’ commitment to buying local food kept coming to mind. In the article, I read that the president of Tucson Originals, a group of 48 locally owned restaurants, said “for every dollar that comes into a local restaurant, 83 cents goes back into the local economy, compared with just 25 cents at a chain restaurant.”
Could that be true? I jumped on the website of Local First Arizona. With 2500 members, it is the largest organization of its kind in the country. They highlight a study done by Civic Economics for the Local First Chapter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city with about 200,000 more residents than the city of Tucson. That study concludes that $73 of every $100 spent locally stays local compared to $43 of every $100 spent at a non-local business.
Further, if just one in every ten purchases (10%) was shifted to a local business, the study projected the following effects:
- Nearly $140 million in new economic activity
- Over 1600 new jobs created
- Providing over $50 Million in new wages
Buying one in every ten items from a locally owned business doesn’t seem like much of an ask. And, although my perception is that the framing job will be more expensive if done by the shop down the street, I very well might be wrong. Even if it costs a bit more, I’m convinced that the benefit to the community I live in will ultimately reward everyone here including myself – a good example of the adage “what goes around, comes around.” Not to mention that doing business with someone who might be a neighbor is just a lot more interesting.
Coincidentally, I learned from the Local First Website that June 27th to July 5th is “Independents Week” – a great time to put buying local into action. The website’s directory makes it easy to Think Local, Buy Local, Be Local – give it a try!