How many times during the last holiday season did you hear the encouragement to “Shop Local” or to “Support local” businesses? There are many good reasons to shop local – here’s some easy ones. For many in the retail sector they are at their busiest during the last 4-6 weeks of the calendar year, when they finally turn a profit. That means they work January to November just to meet expenses.
While shopping locally during the holidays is important, I know of no business in our community that is only open during the Christmas shopping season and then close their doors for the remainder of the year. They are also here January – November and working hard to keep their doors open and their employees working. Their overhead expenses are pretty much the same in February as they are in December. Rent, utilities, labor and taxes are year round costs. I think it’s time to consider making the “shop local” tune more than a holiday jingle, but instead a way of doing business year round.
I’ll be the first to admit that it would be challenging for most businesses and individuals to buy EVERYTHING locally, in a global economy it’s just unrealistic. However, we can ALL shift some of our spending to local vendors and suppliers. For some it might mean buying your new computer locally instead of at the mega mall, for others it might mean moving a printing project from an online supplier to a local vendor. What does that look like in your business?
The challenge for some is how to measure that good intention. As you are preparing for your annual tax returns, run one more report from your bookkeeping software - a vendor report by zip code. Identify what local means to you . . . which zip codes are local (just Elk River, just Sherburne County or another criteria you choose.) Total up what you spend now within those zip codes. Then look at what you spend elsewhere. Can you shift a percentage back to our local economy? What is that number? For everyone it will be different, but without knowing that number for your business you won’t know if you’ve achieved that goal.
Maybe your business vendors are preset or you’re not the one making those decisions. You can do this on a personal/family level as well. Here’s the challenge – take the pledge to shift 10% of your non local spending to local vendors. Give local businesses an opportunity to earn your business before looking beyond local.
Recently you received the newest chamber directory in the mail. There are many great local businesses that you could be doing business with in 2016. Make this year the year that the encouragement to shop local is more than a holiday tune and truly a way of doing business. Let’s energize the pace of business with 10% more.