One Year of Shopping Local

By now you have probably seen the infographicLoveLiveLocal released last month (thanks to the creative genius of Vinnie Arnone of Cabo Cado fame) that illustrates how where we choose to spend our dollars affects our local economy. Shopping local generates more money for the local community than shopping at a nationally owned business, and shopping online generates nothing for the local community.

So, what does “shopping local” even mean? In general, a locally owned business is one that provides goods and services to a community where the owner is a local resident and has full autonomy with respect to their business practices. Examples of locally owned businesses are practically endless on Cape Cod ranging from boutiques, bakeries and food markets, to insurance companies and breweries, to restaurants and print shops. On average, these businesses invest and reinvest more in the local community than any other type of business.

Franchises, like Ben & Jerry’s, car dealerships, and Koko Fit Club, are owned by local residents who hold a license granted by a larger company. The license allows the individual to market a set of products or services in a specific territory. Although they receive marketing materials and other assistance from the larger company, franchise owners have the independence to participate in local programs, activities and fundraisers.

In contrast, corporately owned businesses, such as Walmart, Home Depot, Olive Garden, Toys R Us, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Lowe’s have their headquarters off-Cape. This means that much of their earnings and expenditures, with the exception of wages, are held outside of our region, and decisions are made for the whole brand by a small group of people with no connection to the towns in which the businesses are located. Aside from chains such as Staples, Stop & Shop and TJ Maxx, most national retailers and restaurants are not headquartered in Massachusetts.

In the infographic, we also estimated that if in one year every adult on Cape Cod were to spend just $50 at a locally owned store rather than at a national retailer it would generate an additional $4 million for the local economy.

Unfortunately, there is a common perception that locally owned stores are less affordable and they do not have the selection that a national chain would have. As a local business owner and a founder of LoveLiveLocal, Amanda Converse has been questioning this perception for many years. But this year she has decided to challenge herself to make sure she spends at least 90% of her disposable income at locally owned establishments, and to share her experiences (and maybe some challenges) with you all.

The purpose of this exercise is to record qualitative narratives of only shopping locally, discover where to find most consumables individuals might need, and to potentially find gaps in the market that local businesses might be able to fill. And, ultimately, to exemplify how large and small purchasing decisions can impact our local economy and community.

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