Shop Local for You and Your Community

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Geer-Dunn and Girton's Florist Shop are shown in this 1970 era picture taken at the corner of Cherry and Third Streets by Cornell Seaburg. From the Fenton History Center collections.
Geer-Dunn and Girton's Florist Shop are shown in this 1970 era picture taken at the corner of Cherry and Third Streets by Cornell Seaburg. From the Fenton History Center collections.

Do you remember Bigelow’s Department Store? What was your favorite floor or department? How about the escalators? Bigelow’s was a small business at its start. Everyone seemed to shop there because they had the best quality and it was a great experience. Unfortunately, the retail economy moved out of downtown to the malls and Bigelows didn’t survive. A good example of why shopping local matters. Jamestown Mattress which began as Blystone Mattress in 1886 as a small business now has stores across New York State and you can still shop at the original address in Jamestown. Jamestown has many small businesses that drive the economy, in fact, small businesses make up the majority of our nation’s retail, service and manufacturing economy.

Sheila Webster, Director of Marketing, Communications and Governmental Affairs for the Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce said, “Small business is an integral part of the economy in Chautauqua County. With more than 800 small businesses countywide, they span all economic sectors from agriculture to construction to manufacturing to retail.

In the immediate Jamestown area alone there are over 300 small businesses that are directly involved in retail or wholesale, food service, entertainment, recreation, and more. These businesses employ over 2,200 local people, which means they are supporting families all over our region.”

Imagine our town without it’s charming, quirky, welcoming small businesses. Where would you grab coffee, enjoy lunch, pick up milk, or get your hair cut if you didn’t visit our small businesses? For instance, where else can you get a korv burger other than Ecklof’s Bakery? What if we looked like every other town with the same big box stores? When you shop locally you are helping a small business owner, and neighbor, pay for their family’s needs; food, gas, children’s lessons, etc. When you shop locally you help build a more interesting and unique community.

Chautauqua Music is shown at it's prior location at the corner of Main and Second Streets.  Photo taken by Cornell Seaburg, around 1970, from the Fenton History Center collections.
Chautauqua Music is shown at it’s prior location at the corner of Main and Second Streets. Photo taken by Cornell Seaburg, around 1970, from the Fenton History Center collections.

Small business is the backbone of our local economy.

According to Ms. Webster, “A recent survey by American Express, which is now in its 10th year of celebrating Small Business Saturday, demonstrates that for every dollar spent with a locally owned small business, $0.67 cents goes directly into the local economy. Conversely, purchases that are made just online do nothing to help the local economy.” National chains only give back $0.43 per dollar spent. Your dollars create a multiplier effect. The small businesses you patronize will in turn buy supplies, build out their stores, hire contractors, hire designers, hire a lawyer, hire an accountant and buy advertising. Your dollars are spread across the community to benefit the entire community. Your dollars support the local job market by creating jobs at the businesses you frequent. You help nurture the community through the businesses that donate to our local charities helping our fellow residents. The taxes you pay at the small business stay local. According to the American Planning Association 2012 survey “when people were asked what made an ideal community, the top answer was having locally owned businesses nearby.”

Small Business Saturday began in 2010 by American Express to promote locally owned businesses and, of course, to sell more on their credit card platform. The program’s goals were to bring attention to and celebrate the importance of small businesses in the nation. Small businesses employ almost half the workforce. Small Business Saturday is strategically placed between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to capture the busiest shopping days of the year. Small Business Saturday gives the “little guy” a chance against the Goliaths of Walmart, Target and Home Depot. American Express reports that by 2015 trends showed the shopping day was a tradition for many.

Shopping locally may limit one’s buying options, but with a plan, a budget and time you can get a lot of satisfaction. You will connect with local business owners who depend on you, you will see fellow residents as you shop, and you might just enjoy a few laughs along the way. If you prefer online shopping, many local businesses can accommodate you.

How Shopping Local Helps You:
You promote a cleaner environment by walking or riding your bike to the local stores. You save transportation costs and save the environment.
You will be healthier by walking or riding to the store.
Your quality of life will be better because of the human and community interaction.
You will be supporting the local “village” instead of national chain stores that don’t know you or our community (whether shopping in the store or online).
Employing local service providers (banks, lawyers, accountants, contractors) builds up the community.

“Shoptauqua” program supports local businesses

Ms. Webster added, “Even if you have someone on your holiday list who is hard to buy for, you can still give a gift that supports local business people. The Shoptauqua Gift Card, sold through the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, can be purchased in any dollar value up to $500 and can be used at more than 150 participating Chamber member businesses throughout Chautauqua County for everything from clothing to dinner out to groceries to locally produced wines.” Show your support for our local economy by “voting” with your wallet – Shop Local this Saturday, November 30!