November kicks off the #ChooseLocal and #ShopLocal season and it is a good opportunity to think about the reasons to choose local.
The intersection of technology and a busy holiday season make it all too easy to jump online rather than visit a brick-and-mortar store. In a matter of minutes and a few keystrokes, all your gifts and shopping could be complete. However, there are a few things you will miss by not choosing one of the almost 650,000 small businesses in Washington State.
Small businesses make up 99% of all businesses in our state and employ over 1.4 million family members, friends, and neighbors. Needless to say, Washington local small businesses fuel the economic engine of our state.
Buying local products and services have a far greater impact on your local economy than purchasing products online, out of state, or even out of the country. The value of the product or service we buy locally is much more likely to stay in the local economy and keep working for us long after the initial purchase.
When you use a local attorney, buy a local car, or shop at the local hardware store around the corner, the money paid for goods and services helps pay wages for local employees, who are much more likely to also choose to shop locally. The small business owner you support is much more likely to sponsor an event in the area, donate to a local nonprofit, or support youth sports in your city. The taxes you pay are more likely to stay locally; such as the business and occupation tax credit many local businesses use for the Main Street Programs in Centralia and Chehalis.
A recent study indicated that over $9.3 billion would stay in local economies if every family in the United States spent $10 a month at a local business. That same study reported that small business owners donate 250% more to local nonprofits and charitable organizations than larger out-of-town businesses.
Although we have all shopped online for hard-to-find goods and services, there are many other reasons to #ChooseLocalFirst and support community businesses. In addition to our community missing out on tax revenue and creating successful and vibrant local business communities, you miss out on the experience.
‘Girls Night Out’ in Centralia, shopping at the farmers market in Chehalis, music in the park, or attending any local events in our historic downtown communities create new shopping experiences for my family. Those local shopping experiences deliver unmatched quality of customer service.
Shopping often becomes utilitarian. However, there are times when shopping can be so much more. Sometimes shopping is an experience and lasting memories are created. Sometimes the ‘boring’ trip to the hardware store ends up being a discussion about the best Pokémon we saw at the toy store or the Harry Potter book we saw at the store; of course, followed by frozen yogurt.
The best part about shopping local is that you don’t need to wait for an event to create a fun and quality shopping experience in historic downtown Centralia or Chehalis. It is right there all year long.
Peter Abbarno represents the 20th Legislative District in the Washington State House of Representatives. Peter is an attorney with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP, business owner; but most importantly he is a husband and father.