As small business Saturday draws near, you are sure to hear the phrase "shop small". But what does it really mean to "shop small", and why is it important?
To be honest, before I was a store owner, I felt the same way you probably do. I just assumed "shop small" was a catch phrase used to draw consumers to their local shops; just as a sales pitch. Of course, I knew it was a good thing to support local businesses, but I didn't really understand why.
Let me start with the fact that I am no Economist! But I have learned at thing or two while attempting to run a small business of my own, in a relatively small town (not an easy task!).
When I decided to make the HUGE leap of faith of opening a business in a somewhat "ghost" downtown in Hillsboro, TX, I was told it wasn't a very good idea. There weren't hardly any businesses downtown, and I was told that no one really cared to shop in Hillsboro as much when we had Waco, Burleson, and the metroplex of DFW in such close proximity. I was told that many businesses came and went downtown, and didn't seem to stay for too long. Not to mention the fact that I had zero experience running a store, but I leapt anyways. I married into a family that has been here for generations, and I wasn't going anywhere. So here I am!
I brought other vendors into Ruby & Pearl to leap with me, and from that has sprung multiple other businesses to our downtown area. And after that, even more local downtown businesses have opened their doors. We are close to full occupancy in a downtown that was quite empty! Several historic downtown buildings have been sold and renovated along with this new change.
And what does all of this mean? This means that local crews have been busy with plenty of jobs renovating, real estate agents have been selling, local people have been hired to work at the businesses (lots of them I might add!). Streets have been completed. Our Farmer's Market has grown. Hillsboro has been featured in papers, magazines, television, and more! Is this all due to Ruby & Pearl opening their doors? Of course not! But we came in at just the right time to be at the beginnings of what have been a domino effect of a huge turnaround for our nearly "ghost" downtown, and we are so proud of our little community and everyone that has worked so hard to bring life to it!
The fact of the matter is that the fate of our small businesses, and of our community and communities like ours around the nation, are in the hands of our local consumers (that's me and you!). Money is like blood; it needs to keep moving and circulating to keep the economy alive. When your money is only spent at chain businesses, it flows out like a wound to corporate America. Which don't get me wrong, these places offer so many jobs to so many people. But if every town was nothing but big box stores and fast food chains, how would each town show off its local flair? It would be nothing but monotony all across the US- and that would be such a devastating loss to our entire country. There would be no Fredricksburg, Granbury, Gruene, or wherever else is your favorite place to go with quaint little unique shops!
Another upside for buying local is that it enhances the circulation of money for that area. The idea is that if it circulates more quickly, the money passes through more hands, and more people have had the benefit of that money and what it has purchased for them. If you're buying local and not at a chain or branch store, chances are that store is not making a huge profit. More goes into input costs, such as supplies and upkeep, printing, advertising, paying employees; all which puts that money right back into the community.
For example, we buy locally from Business Supply on the next street down for all our ink as well as printing needs & office supplies; I have my t-shirts locally printed, all of our employees are local (and we've been able to hire more help as we've grown), we advertise in our local paper and on our local radio station. We buy lunch and coffee from all of our local restaurants. We order our flowers locally. We bank at our local First National. When we need to add more pipes to our walls or shelving, we purchase locally from Ace & Tucker Lumber. We hire local contractors for work, local AC repairmen, etc etc. One business feeds another business and so on and so forth. And in return, we hope that we are able to provide them with anything they may need. THIS is how a local economy survives. If every time you needed lunch, shopping, coffee, or hardware and you drove to Waco, what would happen to all your favorite little local shops? They would disappear! And sadly, the jobs and the local money would go with them. It's not about how much money you have, but how much money you can keep circulating.
All of this, and we haven't even started on local tax dollars! Every dollar you spend locally, at least here in Texas, has not only state taxes charged, but a % of that 8.25% is local taxes. To be exact, state tax is 6.25%, Hill County Tax is 0.5%, and Hillsboro Municipal Tax is 1.5%. If no money is spent in Hill County or in Hillsboro, that means that we have no tax dollars to spend on our roads, our upkeep, our city employees, and so on and so forth. It is CRUCIAL to our local economy that we have local tax dollars, as well!
On a more personal level, when you buy local you are getting to enjoy a more personal relationship you may not otherwise get to have. Along with the rest of your community, you get to celebrate when your favorite local business thrives, and you mourn when its forced to shut its doors (Catfish Haven is a local favorite I am currently mourning the loss of!). You are personally invested. You get to personally know the owner and the employees, and in return they get to personally know you. They get to know what you are regularly purchasing, and can tailor their business around YOU and better offer what you need. Your customer service experience is sure to be a great one, or if it isn't they are sure to make it right in a snap! YOU are all that matters to them (this is a FACT at R&P!).
YOU are supporting people that you know, in a community that you know, so that they may serve people and businesses that you know, and give back to the community you all love. We give back and donate at every chance we get; to our local churches, to our local schools, to our local causes. Our children go to school with your children. We go to church at your church. THIS is what a sense of community means, and it takes all of us to keep the wheels turning.
I am sure this doesn't even begin to touch the tip of the iceberg on this very important matter, but it pretty well sums up what I have learned thus far! And I hope this gives you a better idea of why shopping small really matters this shopping season, and every single season year round!
We hope to see you soon not only at Ruby & Pearl, but down the street at the new local café, up the street at the local coffee shop, and all over town!