We’ve all heard that shopping from small and local businesses is good. We hear “shop small” and “buy local” all the time. But why? What is the importance of bringing local companies into our buying circle? The U.S. Small Business Administration says that there were 31.7 small businesses in the United States in the 2020 Small Business Profile. All these businesses are owned by individuals, following dreams and creating realities out of the things they love. The following are five reasons why we should try and shop locally to support the small businesses in our Columbia Basin communities.

Shop local Columbia Basin
Farmers markets make finding local crafts, foods, and services easy. Photo credit: Carrie Damstedt

Keeps Money Local

Supporting local businesses helps keep money in the community. According to a study published by the American Independent Business Alliance, “48% of money spent at a local business is reallocated into the community due to the multiplier effect.” On the other side, only 14% of money spent at a chain business is reentered into one’s immediate community. The returning of business dollars occurs when the owner’s profits and employee paychecks are funneled back into their daily lives and expenses. These include their bills, their activities, and hopefully supporting other businesses as well. In addition to worker’s payments, the sales taxes spent in local businesses fund police and fire protection, street repair and trash collection.

Lowers Environmental Impact

Shop local Columbia Basin
Markets and pop-ups have locally grown products of all sorts from produce to flowers. Photo credit: Carrie Damstedt

Many products sold in chain stores take a journey from their creation locations to their selling destination. When food is sold in grocery stores, the distance it travels is referred to as its food miles —including the entire journey from production to consumption. Foods from bigger chains often include higher food miles for their products. All this travel begins to environmentally impact the Earth between the fuel, transportation and packaging. Food isn’t exclusive to needing the extra costs of traveling to be sold. However, when shopping local, especially when it comes to local farmers markets and produce stands, the goods start in the community and stay in the area. This concept of staying local really cuts down on the environmental transportation factor of consumption. Reducing the distance your consumed products travels helps to lower any ecological impact.

Creates More Jobs

The 2020 Small Business Profile tells us that of all the businesses in the United States, 99.9% fall into the small business category. That’s a lot of companies creating jobs. In 2020, 1.6 million net new jobs were created through these small and local businesses. And these small businesses aren’t just creating jobs, they are creating jobs in your community.

Unique and Personalized Experience

Shop local Columbia Basin
Kristel Kinder of Kinder Kakery hand makes cookies to fit her customer’s needs. Photo courtesy: Kinder Kakery

Shopping at local businesses can be an interesting and exciting alternative to a larger chain. Products, services and environments are often unique. Kristel Kinder, a baker based out of Kennewick, always begins her orders with many questions to make sure her clients get exactly what they want in their order. She knows it might be overwhelming but seeing her client’s faces when they look at their cookies for the first time is “by far the best thing ever,” she says. It’s moments like these that are literally local shop’s business. Shopping local opens the world of the business owners who handpick, hand-make or personally curate the items they sell. Creating an inviting, unique experience is as important to the creator as it is to the consumer.

Cameron Milton, the owner of custom photography and personalized artwork business Melting Miltons, believes that this personal touch is vital to his work. The individual relationships he develops with his clients allow their experiences to be authentic and one of a kind. He takes pride in his creative process, providing a real and vibrant experience that can’t quite be replicated anywhere else.

Builds a Fun and Diverse Community

Shop local Columbia Basin
Cameron Milton is a local artist who owns a personalized artwork and custom photography business. Photo courtesy: Melting Miltons

Every community is a little different. More differences in the individual businesses within really create a community that is one of a kind. Small shops and restaurants can bring a fun and diverse climate to a city. They make a unique and intimate experience for visitors and draw people in. These small businesses work at bringing their exceptional services, products, and experiences to individuals that help build a community as a whole. They elevate the community. Cameron Milton gets to be in charge of his creative vision through those he works with. It starts with commissions, bringing a creative excitement to individuals that get passed onto a more extensive community scale. Several of his murals are found on the backside of the Richland Players building, in the Richland Uptown by Some Bagels and Gelato, and at Green2Go in Finley.

These five reasons aren’t the only reasons why we should consider shopping locally. Kristel Kinder of Kinder Kakery says it best when talking about her orders. None of her orders are the same. She customizes every detail—from flavor to colors—to meet her customer’s needs. “You can’t get that at a regular grocery store,” she says. It’s the small and local businesses that will take care of you, and that’s the number one reason why you should shop small.

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