Perspectives: ‘Buy local’ benefits

OPINION – I remember driving by Nissons grocery store in Washington City and feeling concern about the empty parking lots and obvious loss of customers to the big chain grocery store that moved in down the street. I would stop once in a while and buy groceries just to support this “legacy” of a business in downtown Washington City. But, in these hard times, it just couldn’t compete with the discount prices of the national chain and Nissons grocery no longer exists.

Do we have a duty to buy local or a moral obligation to help our small business owners make a profit?

There are over 9,000 businesses registered on a small business national network site, Manta, for the St. George area; the exact number of small businesses in Washington County may vary but for purposes of this discussion it is clear the number is notable. Just about 74 percent of those businesses employ only up to four people and most of those are considered small locally owned businesses. Our local economy is dependent upon these smaller businesses contributing to the job market.

It may not be a “duty” to buy local but we should realize that our support can benefit our fellow residents and neighbors. The owners of Wunderbar Deli came from Yaphank, New York, and opened the deli about six months ago. Local customers rave about their burgers and sandwiches. “We buy from local suppliers to ensure what we serve are the freshest ingredients,” said Beth Fitzgerald from Wunderbar, “it’s a win/win for everyone when our local customers support us.”

According to a study by Civic Economics Andersonville Retail Economics, when you spend $100 dollars at an independent business, the local economy gets a return of $68 as opposed to $43 with a national chain. Of course, national chains like Wal-mart and Costco do their part in contributing to the job market here and attracting many customers. While they add to the local economy, they are not the lifeblood of a local economy and it’s important to remember that.

In St.George, if every family spent just $10 dollars a month with a locally-owned business, over $3,721,205 would be directly returned to our community. This revenue would directly impact our schools, better roads and more support for local fire and police departments.

Buying local produce from local farmers can also make an impact on our city.  Local fruit and vegetables taste better, are more nutritious and use less packaging. Farmers preserve open spaces by making their land profitable as they sell more local produce. Local produce does not have to travel 1,500 hundred miles to get here in cases and, frankly, it just tastes better when it’s fresh.

Yes, local businesses need to be competitive. Local businesses also need to work hard to earn our business by offering great products and services for competitive prices. The free market will weed out those businesses that cannot compete. Even those residents who locally own and operate large chains need our support because they do indeed live and spend money here.

Just over 40 years ago, in 1970, Washington County only had about 7,000 residents. Our growth has exploded and good, small businesses are one of the main reasons for our growth. People were willing to take a chance and start a business here. SkyWest is a prime example. Café Rio is a local favorite that also started in St.George and is now a national chain.

But, if we chose to even spend just one day a week buying local, what a difference it would make in our community. There is a movement on Facebook called “Small Business Saturday” urging of us to support local businesses at least one day a week.

Recently, we had a “Cash Mob” form to descend on several local businesses to raise awareness to buy local. People show up to spend money on a chosen business to show their support. It is great to see the outpouring of citizens support.

We may not have a duty to support local business, but maybe we should choose to support them or at the very least stay mindful that these small businesses contribute greatly to our community’s economic success. When the community thrives, the people who live and work in it are productive members of society and they continue to give back to their community- the cycle of giving goes on and on.

Because a stronger community helps us in so many ways, maybe it’s time to consider spending some of our dollars at these local businesses first and investing in our own cities when we can.

Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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  • Murat June 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Nisson’s Foodtown might very well have survived had it shifted its brand and focus to serving the rapidly growing Hispanic market instead of trying to compete directly with Wal Mart, which is an obvious death sentence. It seems the owners became apathetic about the inevitability of it all and refused to adapt the business accordingly.

    These little things like the “Cash Mob” and “Local Business Saturday” are cute, but largely inconsequential and irrelevant to the realities and complexities of the situation. In short, the global economy in 50 years will barely resemble today’s, and we are in the very beginning of what will be for most of us a very painful transformation.

    We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  • Big Bob June 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Two things…one, Nisson’s was dead or definetely dying WELL before Walmart, Albertson’s or Costco came in blocks away. Two, there is no such thing as downtown Washington. In an area like ours, where St. George is the central and largest city, with other towns surrounding it known as suburbs, there can technically only be one, downtown in a consecutive metropolitan/cosmopolitan area. In this case, the only downtown in our small metro area is central St. George. Now can we please stop sounding inbred?! Thankyou.

  • Barbara June 15, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Lol, thanks Big Bob for setting things straight!! It’s hideous and annoying. I’ve even heard people say downtown Ivins, now that is indeed a laugh considering I’m from Phoenix where downtown is clearly defined like any major city, with high rises and skyscrapers!! Anyway, ma and pa stores have been dying for years, it is surely nothing new. Ever since the big box chain stores were created, they have been dropping like flies in cities and towns everywhere.

    • Gail Gardner June 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      They only die because the people didn’t care OR because so few understand the connection between what they spend and how businesses make money. There ARE towns and cities that are actively working to reverse this trend of nothing but big brands and chains – and as those types of stores continue to sell worthless crap that breaks within weeks or months of purchase there will be more and more people seeking out quality products and being willing to pay for them.

      The dollar is sliding and taking our standard of living along with it – and the way to survive is to support small businesses and take every penny we can away from big brands who are sucking economies dry across the U.S. and around the world.

  • UdunnoMe June 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Face it, we live in a world of fierce competition where it’s no doubt, survival of the fittest.

  • urbanboy June 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    ..And perhaps, Kate Dalley, maybe the city could get with the times and realize it has a diversity of citizens now and allow more entertainment venues like dance clubs and/or comedy clubs to come in. Mesquite makes a killing out of St George area residents just in the way of entertainment alone. The new Envy nightclub down there that opened recently virtually has the weekend grown folks down for some fun, leaving our streets and few places to go, virtually vacant.

  • Gail Gardner June 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    We each get to decide what the future looks like – whether it will be what the other commenter Murat predicts – “a very painful transformation” where the wealthy elite decide what our choices are – or we get behind the buy local, eat local, shop local movements that are rapidly growing.

    If we continue to buy from multi-national corporations that refuse to pay a living wage, transfer their costs of doing business onto the public dole by expecting their employees to get government assistance – and even provide departments to show them how, and treat their suppliers unfairly we will end up with the equivalent of the company store.

    When we buy from businesses that do evil we are equally complicit – guilty of all their wrong doings. Many are waking up and realize that money is NOT everything and the love of money has destroyed our health and economy. Relationships and quality are MORE important – and there is growing awareness that we should buy less junk and be willing to invest in our communities.

    You can see that by searching Twitter for #BuyLocal #ShopLocal #EatLocal and other similar hashtags – or search on YouTube or online elsewhere for local success stories and support small business. The tide will turn for those who care – and the economy will continue to decline for those who do not.

  • Josh June 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    When does local stop being local? Is Lins considered local? If I am correct they started in St George and have since expanded to Nevada and as far away as Richfield. Should people in Overton or Richfield not shop there because part of their money will be taken out of their area? Same goes with Cafe Rio. Love them or hate them Wal-Mart was once a small store local to Arkansas. When does a business become so large that it is no longer “cool” to shop there? I say shop where you feel you get the best service and value.

    In response to Gail. I spent a couple years working for Lins on sunset when I first move to St George and started college in the mid 90’s. I enjoyed the store and the people but they hardly paid your so called livable wage.

    Kate, thanks for the Wunderbar Deli recommendation. If I can find them I’ll definitely check them out. I hope their burgers are as good as Nikos were….Damn I miss that place!

  • urbanboy June 17, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Good point, Josh. Everything was local at one time.

  • Helen June 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I have looked for the Ma and Pa stores since I came here. Especially for local fresh fruits and vegs. I went to the Farmers Market at Ancestor Sqare and it was very limited. Is there somewhere a list published for newbys or others that will help us locate the small business?

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