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Cedar Mill News
Volume 3, Issue 3


March 2005

Why buy local?

By Virginia Bruce, editor

With the threatened invasion of big-box retail giant Wal-Mart hanging over our future, let’s explore some of the reasons why it makes sense to buy from locally owned businesses.

Keep money in the local economy

When you purchase items from local businesses, their taxes stay in our community. The profits made by local owners also tend to get spent locally. A study in Maine in 2003 showed that approximately 45% of the money spent at local businesses stayed local, opposed to 14% for big-box chains.

Local retailers carry a higher percentage of locally-made goods than the chains, creating more jobs for local producers. They hire local contractors for support services like construction, advertising and cleaning, and local professionals help them with their business needs.

Product diversity

Local retailers select products based on their preferences and knowledge of their customers, not based on a national sales plan or a list of products made for the retailer. And those locally-produced products rarely get into the big-box stores. Many of their goods are made in sweatshops in foreign countries.

Community strength

When you shop at local businesses, you get to know the people in the store and they get to know you. Community news is passed on, and relationships are built. Local business people support community organizations and charities and get involved in efforts to improve the community. Big-box stores tend to drive these businesses out. Locally owned businesses also tend to provide better wages and benefits than do chain stores.

Public benefits and costs

Local stores require comparatively little infrastructure and rarely get tax or other concessions from local government. They tend to provide better for the needs of their employees. Big-box retailers, on the other hand, pay minimum wage and offer mostly part-time jobs with few benefits. These conditions lead their employees to rely on public assistance to make ends meet or when crisis strikes.

Many communities that have studied the impact of big-box retailers on local economies have concluded that despite promises of jobs, there is a net loss of economic resources when all the costs and benefits of these businesses are taken into account.

Local accountability

A local company is highly motivated to keep your business, and will take special care to do so. They will special-order products, resolve problems, and make recommendations based on their experience.

Robert Reich, in a New York Times editorial, writes, “We can blame big corporations, but we’re mostly making this bargain with ourselves. The easier it is for us to get great deals, the stronger the downward pressure on wages and benefits. Last year, the real wages of hourly workers, who make up about 80 percent of the work force, actually dropped for the first time in more than a decade; hourly workers’ health and pension benefits are in free fall. … The more efficiently we can summon products from anywhere on the globe, the more stress we put on our own communities."

When you have the choice, give a thought to using your dollars to support local business. Yes, you may pay a few cents more for an item, but your money stays here to enrich the community, not to build the wealth of a family in Arkansas.



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The Cedar Mill News
Published monthly by the Cedar Mill Business Association, Inc.,
P.O. Box 91177
Portland, OR 97291-0177

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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229