Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt (R,C,I-Greenwood Lake) partnered with the Goshen Chamber of Commerce today to host a series of events, including a roundtable discussion with roughly a dozen local small-business owners and leaders, a tour of shops and services on Goshen’s Main Street, and a press conference that focused attention on the need to sustain and promote local, main street businesses and discuss the “local premium,” a term used to describe the economic impact of local businesses.
“Buying local is not just about knowing where our food and goods come from, it is about community. Every time you choose to shop at a local store, eat at a local restaurant, or do commerce with a ‘mom and pop’ business, you are investing in the community. Our main streets not only provide us, as consumers, with a unique shopping experience, but they keep the integrity and spirit of our communities alive,” said the assemblywoman, who, as a member of the Assembly Standing Committee on Small Business, has been working in a bipartisan fashion to help improve the health of the state’s main streets.
Goshen Chamber President Michael Rundle said, “Assemblywoman Annie Rabbit has the right idea! Buy Local-Shop Local keeps money local, helping other businesses, non profits and local residents.”
It has often been said that the “local premium” of doing business with local, small services and shops as opposed to big-box chain companies, is roughly 50 percent (compared to roughly 10 percent). This means that for every $1 spent at a local business, approximately 50 cents is reinvested into the local community.
In fact, economic studies, such as one conducted by the firm Civic Economics, have shown that spending $100 at a neighborhood, independently owned business created $68 in additional local economic activity as compared to that same $100 producing just $43 worth of local impact when spent at a national retailer. The study, conducted in Chicago, was largely based on four factors, including increased local payroll and jobs; investing of profits back into the community; charitable giving by neighborhood businesses; and increased procurement of goods, supplies and services from other local services and businesses through the hiring of local accountants, attorneys, designers, advertising in local media and inventory sourcing for local firms.
A similar study was conducted in Austin, Texas comparing a locally owned bookshop and record store to national retailer Borders Books. This study found that the $100 spent at Borders would produce just $13 worth of local economic activity, compared to $45 worth produced by the locally owned stores. The facts are further reinforced by related studies in New Orleans, which compared the local economic impact of locally owned businesses to that of SuperTarget, and found that only 16 percent of the money spent at SuperTarget stays local.
Moreover, this study revealed that if residents and visitors in New Orleans simply shifted just 10 percent of their spending to local businesses, an additional $235 million in local economic activity would be generated annually. Finally, yet another study revealed that residents in Kent County, Michigan would see an increase of $140 million, including 1,600 new jobs and $53 million in additional payroll, if they shifted just 10 percent of their spending away from chains and into locally owned businesses.
Assemblywoman Rabbitt pointed to the success of locally owned businesses in New York City as an example of the “local premium” here in New York. She stated, “Last time our national economy dropped in the 1970s, the larger national retailers were the first ones to lay-off employees and leave the community. The ‘mom and pop’ businesses, many of which have been in business for decades, are institutions, defining what ‘New York City’ is around the world thanks to groups like the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, which has blocked big chains like Wal-Mart from taking over their urban neighborhoods.”
The assemblywoman continued, “That’s what we’re trying to do here in Orange and Rockland counties – to protect our neighborhoods and sense of community, to preserve the village’s quality of life, and to spur our local economy. I am thrilled to have so many business owners, business leaders, and the Chamber joining me in this effort and look forward to launching this initiative in the other villages and towns in Orange and Rockland counties. I strongly encourage every resident to buy local.”