Destination Publications was awarded a trademark for this slogan “Live Here. Shop Here. SHOP LOCAL (sample left) from the US Trademark. The idea for this originated early in the history of our publication s as far back as when the idea originated to start our magazine in Safety Harbor in 2010 Then, we were known as Destination Safety Harbor. The SHOP LOCAL concept was perfect for our “Publication with a Purpose”, so the creation of our trademark sparks a renewed commitment to create new and expanded programs to encourage our readers to SHOP LOCAL and support your local economy. It has been in the very fabric of why we got started. Small businesses are the heart and soul of our communities and their success is vital. They help support local charities in so many ways…often unseen and unrewarded. And they provide products and services that people need and want. When we spend money local, the impact on our local economy is exponential. Your dollars help local shop owners to hire local residents, and the money they spend gets spent locally and so on (more details to follow). Our mission has always been to support our local economy.
Supporting your local businesses is more beneficial than most realize. Suppose that you’ve just accepted a new job in another state, and there are two areas nearby where you could live. The first is a suburb that’s nice-looking, with well-kept houses and neat green lawns, but it’s in the middle of nowhere. There’s nothing within walking distance, not even a post office. To do any shopping, even just for groceries, you’d have to drive 20 minutes to the nearest shopping center.
The other neighborhood is a bustling town with lots of local businesses. There’s a drugstore, a supermarket, a couple of bookstores, a repair shop, and a big variety store, all within easy walking distance. Which neighborhood would you choose?
If you’re like most Americans, the second neighborhood sounds more appealing to you. In a recent survey by the American Planning Association, when people were asked what made an ideal community, the top answer was having locally owned businesses nearby.
Unfortunately, it’s tough these days for local businesses to stay open. They face stiff competition from big-box chain stores as well as from online retailers, which may offer lower prices and a larger selection. If you want to see your town’s local businesses survive and prosper, the best thing you can do is go the extra mile – or more accurately– stay close to home – to SHOP LOCAL.
When you have shopping to do, it’s tempting to take the easy route and head down to the mall – or easier still, just browse Amazon.com. But keeping your dollars in your hometown has other advantages. Here are just several of the many benefits you can reap by shopping locally:
A Stronger Local Economy. Local businesses hire local workers. In addition to staff for the stores, they hire local architects and contractors for building and remodeling, local accountants and insurance brokers to help them run the business, and local ad agencies to promote it. They’re also more likely than chain stores to carry goods that are locally produced, according to the American Independent Business Alliance. All these factors together create a “multiplier effect,” meaning that each dollar spent in a local store can bring as much as $3.50 into the local economy.
A Closer Community. Shopping at local businesses gives neighbors a chance to connect with each other. It’s easier to get to know someone you see often at a local coffeehouse than someone you only wave to on your way in and out of your house. Knowing your neighbors makes it possible to exchange favors, such as pet-sitting or sharing tools.
A Great Place to Live. This last factor is more difficult to measure than the others, but it’s just as important: Local businesses simply make your town a better, more interesting place to live. One suburban housing development looks much like another, but a town center with thriving local businesses has a feel that’s all its own. Local eateries, bars, bookstores, food markets, pharmacies, and gift shops all combine to give a place its unique character. This is what we see in so many Tampa Bay communities!
There are many ways to support businesses in your area. For instance, if you have a local hardware store, you could look there first when you need anything for your house, instead of heading down to the big-box home improvement store. Most towns have at least a couple of local restaurants or bars, so choosing these places when you eat out is another way to support your local economy. You can also buy your produce from a local farmers’ market or shop for clothes at a local boutique.
To learn more about local businesses in your area, set aside a day to explore your town and see what it has to offer. Since part of the benefit of shopping local comes from being able to run errands on foot, leave your car at home and focus on the area within walking distance (or park nearby), if possible.
If you’ve never really walked around your town before, a map can help you figure out where to go. For a good place to start check out your local chamber of commerce. In many areas, the chamber of commerce publishes maps or shopping guides to promote local businesses.
Once you have identified local businesses in your area, the next step is to make shopping at them a part of your routine schedule.
Not all local businesses are useful to everyone. For instance, a children’s clothing store isn’t of much interest if you don’t have kids. However, everybody has to eat, so shopping locally for food is one of the best ways to support your local economy. Local restaurants and diners are also a great way to get to know others who live near you. And again, you won’t need to drive far to get there.
A locally owned grocery store is a good place to start, but a farmers’ market is even better. Shopping there gives you a chance to meet not just the people who sell your food, but the people who grow it.
Buying directly from the grower is the surest way to know where your food comes from and how it was produced. At a farmers’ market, the person behind the counter can answer all kinds of questions that a clerk at a supermarket can’t. For instance, they can explain which varieties of apples are better for cooking and which are better for eating. Or they can tell you which breed of chicken produced the eggs you’re buying and how the hens were raised. Farmers’ markets are friendlier, more personal settings than big supermarkets. It’s much easier to strike up a conversation with a fellow shopper searching through a bin of melons at the farmers’ market and it can be a lot of fun!
A final way to shop locally for your groceries is through a food co-op. A co-op is a grocery store that’s owned jointly by the people who shop there, so joining one gives you a say in what the store sells and how it’s run. Joining a co-op and attending its meetings is a way to meet and interact with your neighbors. And since most co-ops specialize in food that’s locally produced, including organic foods, it’s a way to support local growers especially if you live here Destination Tampa Bay, Florida!
Content By Heather Miller and Jackie McCallum
Information for “Supporting Your Local Economy” was given by many sources including the Farmer’s Market Coalition, American Farmland Trust, The Environmental Protection Agency, Cambridge Journal, American Independent Business Alliance and Money Matters. Destination Publications will continue to be involve with educating and promoting businesses in the many months and years to come. So, check back often for updates on our plans!