60% of Small Businesses Closed in the Past Year. Why This Matters.
This article was made possible by the fine folks at CloseBuy.
by Jazz Sahota
This past year, I’m proud of everyone who made an effort to shop local. Your choices truly helped to make a difference in the community. But just because businesses are starting to reopen, it doesn’t mean we need to slow down on showing love and support to our local businesses. The uniqueness, the charm, the diversity, the vibrancy, the sense of community – these are all reasons why we shop at and support small and local businesses. Not just in our own home towns, but all over the world. It’s what makes where we live special!
Local businesses have a huge impact on our communities, sometimes more than we might realize. That’s why I’m hoping you’ll sign our “Save Small Businesses” pledge and show your support for small businesses.
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Here are just a few ways in which small and local businesses influence and shape our communities.
Small Businesses Give Back
According to Civil Economics, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 will stay in the community. When shopping at a national chain, only $43 stays in the community.
The money that stays in the community helps with local development. This multiplier effect is clear when you look at a restaurant buying ingredients from local producers, or from local retailers hiring local insurance or accounting firms to help with their business. These mutually beneficial relationships allow the entire community to thrive.
Not only does money spent at small and local businesses infuse cash into local economies directly, but small businesses are also very active in their communities. Small businesses donate 250% more than larger companies to local nonprofits and charitable organizations.
A clear example right here in the Bay Area – A Priori, a local Berkeley, CA based store. Owner Lisa Tana has always been active in supporting her local community, creating a loyal base of shoppers. A Priori frequently donates to school fundraisers, local food banks, and Global Giving, to name a few. Prior to the pandemic, A Priori participated in local food drives and was active in the Lions Club and other local organizations. Her motto is to support organizations that give back and are socially conscious. “Our community is important to us. Without them, we couldn’t do what we love. Giving back and being active in our community is our way of saying thanks,” says owner Lisa Tana.
Community Cultivation and Impact on Government Policies
Small businesses contribute to the heart of communities. Business owners are active – they sit on boards, they make their opinions heard in town meetings, they are a strong and powerful voice for the community. Town centers become a gathering place for merchants, businesses, and local government – all of them working together to preserve the character of our hometowns.
Ben Bleiman, owner of multiple small businesses in San Francisco, is a perfect example of an active and engaged business owner. His background and passion lies in politics and helping amplify fellow small business owners’ voices at City Hall, in San Francisco. His work in directly reaching out to and assembling the feedback of small businesses all over San Francisco helped to craft Prop H, which passed last November. Prop H, which included faster and more flexible permits for outdoor spaces, will play a key role in small businesses’ resurgence post pandemic. He’s an avid supporter of Places for People, which provides a permanent path for expanded use of outdoor spaces for San Francisco small businesses, ranging from restaurants, to shops, to even gyms. “Small businesses were taken for granted in San Francisco before COVID. The pandemic has forced our leaders to realize the city needs to step in to save small businesses. Places for People will help keep this momentum going,” says Bleiman.
Take action now! Sign our “Save Small Businesses” pledge and showcase your support for small businesses!
Diversity and Culture
Business owners come from all walks of life. It’s their stories, their skills, their passions that drive them to be entrepreneurs. As citizens, we benefit from this diversity by being exposed to unique and new things – from amazing new food, beautiful home decor, or just good conversation from someone who’s lived a fascinating life.
A diverse and vibrant town also drives up the appeal of that community. This increases foot traffic and shopping, which in turn attracts tourism. That effect carries over into hotels, tours, and other attractions.
My co-founder Samuel loves getting to know all the businesses whenever he moves into a new neighborhood. One of his favorite places is his local shoe repair shop! The owner, James, is from Florida and learned to cobble at an early age. Although he loved cobbling, his other love is roller skating. It was a roller skating competition in the ‘70s that introduced him to the Bay Area. Although there were a few twists and turns and businesses he opened throughout the years, in 2017 he found himself back in San Francisco. He’s now able to combine his two passions by owning a shoe repair shop in a city he loves, and being able to participate in Oakland’s vibrant roller skating scene.
Creating Hometown Legends
When was the last time you stood in line for over an hour waiting to get a Krispy Kreme donut? I’d guess probably never. But standing in line at 2am to get donuts at Bob’s Donuts after a wild night out (pre-COVID of course)? Probably more likely!
Nearly every town has that one business where customers stand in line for hours to buy what they’re selling. The more we support small businesses in our communities, the more of those amazing places we’ll cultivate – and the more bragging rights we’ll have about it on social media 😁. One might argue we have enough of those in San Francisco, but I wouldn’t give up these gems if I had a choice!
Top Notch Customer Service & Higher Quality Items
When you’re small, every customer matters. The relationships those merchants form with their customers can be the difference between thriving or closing down. When you’re a giant department store, you can survive by the sheer volume of what you sell. But when you’re a small business, your scale is much smaller, so you need to work that much harder to stand out and earn loyal customers.
Each of the recent things I’ve bought from a local business included a personalized thank you note. The take out meal I received a few weeks ago had a handwritten poem describing how we’ll all get through COVID together. It’s these little touches that make me remember these businesses and want to keep on going back!
The other way small businesses aim to win our dollars is by producing higher quality items. Oftentimes, these handmade items are one-of-a-kind and take hours, or even days, to create. No matter what it is, the end result is the same – getting a far superior item with far superior service to match.
A Move Towards Sustainability
Small businesses often make their own products, or partner with small batch manufacturers for their goods. These close ties to nearby manufacturers leave a smaller carbon footprint. Items don’t need to be sent far distances or mass produced overseas.
Also, when you buy from a local business, you can pick up your items, rather than having them shipped. This reduces shipping waste and greatly reduces our carbon emissions and paves the way for a more sustainable planet.
When I went through a recent renovation, I worked with a local cabinet company, New Century Cabinets. They build all their cabinets in a warehouse in San Francisco, source their materials locally, and hire locally. I was able to get great quality cabinets that were delivered within the same city, not something that needed to be shipped thousands of miles.
Take Action – Show Your Support!
Show your continued support of small and local businesses by signing our Save Small Businesses pledge. It’s a way to showcase your support and let the world know you’re a small business champion! And the best part – you’ll get an awesome badge in your inbox you can add to social media! You’ll also be kept up to date on all the new merchants we’re adding to CloseBuy to make shopping small businesses easy!
Just for our special readers of Broke Ass Stuart, the first 100 people to sign the pledge will get a real life version of our badge – in sticker form!
Thanks for making the choice to shop small!
Jazz Sahota is co-founder of CloseBuy. CloseBuy is a browser extension that lets you know if the items you’re shopping for on Amazon are available at a small or local business. Jazz is passionate about shopping small and wants to make it easy for everyone to join her on this mission. Learn more about CloseBuy and the merchants they help support and follow CloseBuy on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.