“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” That’s a quote by author Anna Lappé about the power each of us has every day with every dollar we spend. But it’s not just about what we buy. It’s also about WHERE we buy it.
But buying local costs so much more!
Does it? Actually, several recent studies have shown just the opposite. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, money spent at local businesses generates 3.5 times more wealth for the local economy (that’s you and me) compared to money spent at a chain-owned or online retailer.
Not only do local businesses employ your neighbors and friends, they also multiply the effect of your dollars when they pay other local businesses for printing, advertising, power, janitorial services, etc.
Plus, small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local non-profits, events and teams. Cordovans are so lucky to have so many fun, free events throughout the year. Guess what? Most of the money and resources that make those events happen are donated by local Cordova businesses.
But I’m just one person. Does it really matter what I do?
Yep! Every dollar counts and they all add up. You can only control your own actions, but let’s just say every Cordovan shifted their spending to buy just 25 percent more at Cordova businesses and from Cordova artisans, and 25 percent less online and outside of town.
There would be more demand for locally-made and locally-sold products and therefore more people would likely start making and selling things in Cordova. Suddenly, we would have a more diversified and resilient economy, and a higher sales tax revenue which is often associated with less increase in the kinds of taxes that hit residents harder (like property and excise tax).
We could also end up less reliant on outside sources to fill our community’s needs, which could in turn provide us some protection from the financial woes increasing rapidly on the state and federal level.
Plus, when you show your love to local stores and makers, you’re helping secure their survival. Each one of a kind Cordova business is an integral part of our community’s unique character, so when you shop locally you’re helping keep Cordova, Cordova.
Realistically, we all know that there are certain items that Cordova’s small businesses just can’t stock. But how hard is it to give local retailers a shot at your business first, before you shop online or in Anchorage?
Have you ever noticed how many artists and makers Cordova has? How many smart, resourceful entrepreneurs? Per capita we’ve got to be way above average! Let’s take advantage of our embarrassment of riches and SHOP CORDOVA FIRST to support these folks so they keep on offering beautiful, functional items in town.
The same way every fish lost from a fisherman’s net is less money in his or her pocket, every dollar sent out of Cordova has a measurable impact on our local economy, whether it’s spent on Amazon or at Walmart or Whole Foods. If you’ve gone through all the work to get fish in the net, why would you want to let any of them out before you can cash them in? We need that money to keep being spent and circulated around town, supporting as many people and businesses as possible before it leaves.
So what do you say? How do you vote? Let’s put our money where our heart is, in Cordova!
Cathy Renfeldt is the executive director of Cordova Alaska Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s Shop Cordova First campaign was started in 2014 and works to strengthen the local economy by supporting Cordova businesses.