In recognition of the major role small businesses play in our national economy, Saturday, the day after Black Friday and two days after Thanksgiving, has been dubbed Small Business Saturday. Small businesses play an even greater role in our local economy and quality of life, and so we urge you to shop locally this Saturday and every day for the following reasons:
This year we have partnered with the chambers of commerce to urge you to do your shopping locally.
In fact, around this time every year, I urge everyone to shop locally. This is in part self-serving, for the community newspaper benefits directly from sales in the local store. The owner or manager of that store then has the money to advertise in the newspaper, which in turn brings them more customers, which brings more money, which brings more advertising and so on.
And while the sophisticated media buyers will tell us that they need more advertising than usual because their business is off, in practical terms, for local store owners, it is hard to put out money for advertising when the dollars are not in the cash register. So, when business is good in the community, it’s good for the newspaper; the converse is also true.
The point of this, however, is that when business is good in the community, it is good for all of us. We are tied to each other inextricably, and anyone who doubts that must not be conscious. With the ending of the Cold War, small defense subcontractors here on Long Island quickly had to adjust production to serve other markets.
The idea that no man is an island has never been truer than in the economics of today’s global village, and even as we are tightly bound together on a macroeconomic level, we are much more so on a microeconomic level.
For one thing, most of the stores in our communities are managed by the owners who perhaps employ one or two local people to help them.
More often than not, the owners, too, live locally. But even if they do not, chances are they will run out during lunch to do some errands and spend their money locally.
Hence the dollars spent at home tend to stay at home, circulating and recirculating with a multiplier effect that enhances our standard of living and maintains our quality of life.
The more that dollars turn over, the more necessities, like groceries, are purchased, the more discretionary income is spent on the likes of toys and presents, the more durables, like cars and refrigerators, are bought and, finally, the more movies and concerts we attend preceded by dinner at a fine local restaurant.
There is another aspect to the charity begins at home message. Local business people have been generous toward community groups that routinely approach them for contributions.
And that, too, is in part self-serving. Many of those business people have children who play for the Little League teams asking to be sponsored. Ditto for the soccer league, the marching band, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and the myriad of talented groups in need of underwriting. Their first thought is always to appeal to local businesses for help, and those have responded in the finest tradition of giving something back to the communities.
When we think of “downtown” in our villages, we think of where the stores are congregated. If those stores are largely empty, there will soon be more For Rent signs in the windows, which in turn bring fewer shoppers and weaken each shopping center, which then tends to encourage litter, then vandalism and a continued downward spiral. Pride of place is eroded, and that is directly connected to pride of self.
Which brings me back to the basic message: Let’s all be self-serving, in the sense of helping ourselves. This holiday season, more than ever, shop locally.
Your reward will be service with a smile.
Earlier versions of this column were previously printed.