I just thought I’d bring you up-to-date on my research concerning the impact chain stores have on communities and why local business ownership needs our support.
As you know, I became interested in the issue when Nantucket recently adopted a “Formula Store” ordinance. I have discovered, Nantucket is not unique. In fact, communities all over the country, in the mountains, by the seaside, in the Mid-west, have adopted similar zoning regulations. Some of these efforts have been in response to a proposed “big box” development project, such as a Wal Mart or Home Depot. Other efforts were born out of the desire by local business owners and residents to maintain the neighborhood character of their business district, as is the case in Nantucket.
I’ve spoken to a couple of people in town who hold community policy roles. By and large; folks are in a “wait and see” mode. However, they do concede they have a more than passing interest in the Nantucket ordinance and are open to learning more. So in the spirit of self-education and openness, I’d like to offer the following list of benefits most frequently cited for supporting local businesses and limiting chain stores. I hope you and your audience find it informative.
Why support local businesses?
1) Local Character and Prosperity
In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.
2) Community Well-Being
Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.
3) Local Decision-Making
Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made
locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.
4) Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy
Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a
much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.
5) Job and Wages
Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.
6) Public Benefits and Costs
Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.
7) Environmental Sustainability
Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
8) Product Diversity
A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
Allyson Lawless, Newburyport