Does Local Joan Shop Anywhere Else?

local bookstoreOne question Local Joan gets frequently is: how can I do all my shopping at only local stores?

This depends upon what you consider to be a local store. Not every business that’s “local” is limited to one location. For example, a franchise such as True Value or Ace Hardware may belong to a network of locally owned businesses that use the same local suppliers. Although located in other states, some national outlets make notable efforts to support the local community. Kohl’s department stores, for example, runs a program, “Associates in Action,” in which employees volunteer for local children’s charities.

Local Joan’s mission is to help small business, but it also advocates for nationally owned businesses or franchises who are good neighbors in the local community and use fair hiring practices.

One of our key missions is to help you distinguish between  businesses that invest in the community and those that take money out of it. That’s the most important difference. We realize it’s not easy to draw that distinction, or to find local commerce for all our needs, especially when they typically have miniscule advertising budgets, but that’s where Local Joan comes in.

Joan’s philosophy is not about making your life difficult or limiting your choices. Joan simply wants us to shop responsibly and to be aware of which stores contribute to their communities, and to reward them for doing so by giving them our business. Be aware of the barriers that locally-owned stores face against larger competitors who don’t give back, and give those local companies a chance to meet your needs before shopping elsewhere.

Similarly, many professional services are locally owned and have close ties to the communities where they are based. An understandable exception is to go to another state or region for a specialist who has expertise that isn’t represented in your community. But be aware of the plethora of resources available locally, especially in the New York area, and when all else is equal, choose local.

When you shop, notice whether the business is making an effort to be a good neighbor by supporting local charities and by hiring locally. Do their profits all go to out of town causes or do they outsource their labor unnecessarily? That is what hurts us where we live. Let’s say a local businesswoman opens a franchise of a national chain restaurant. It’s likely the store’s menu and advertising and signage are all developed at a national headquarters that may be far away. But the food may be bought locally, which helps local farmers.

Starbucks and Panera Bread are examples of nationally owned chain eateries that make an effort to help their communities. Each has a community bulletin board and sponsors local nonprofit events. Panera locations in Shrewsbury and Ocean, for example, donates their leftover bread to local religious organizations and nonprofits who help the needy. These efforts to support the local community are laudable.

Let’s shop wisely and with discretion. Let’s give our dollars to those who support our local economy and workers, and pay a living wage to their workers, such as Costco.

To learn more about the advantages of local business, we recommend reading The Small-Mart Revolution by Michael H. Shuman.

Communities with an active “buy local” campaign have experienced markedly stronger revenue growth compared to those located in areas without such a campaign.

According to a survey taken by the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, a national survey of independent businesses has found that those in communities with an active “buy local” campaign have experienced markedly stronger revenue growth compared to those located in areas without such a campaign. You can download the report here.

The article by Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, highlights the report and provides a basis for what many proponents of “buy local” campaigns have been claiming for decades. Have a look and make your own conclusions.

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