By Margo Greenman
When you spend your money locally, those dollars go right back into the community where you live. This boosts the local economy and allows independent businesses to grow and create new jobs. If you visit the website for Washington-based Sustainable Connections, you can find a list of their “Top Ten Reasons to Think Local – Buy Local – Be Local,” which includes some of the better known facts regarding the benefits of shopping locally, but also some lesser known reasons why supporting locally-based businesses is good for the community.
From creating a thriving local economy to reducing carbon footprints and more, choosing to shop locally benefits all aspects of the community. Of course, local business owners know these benefits all too well, and they work hard to strengthen the community not only by providing their customers with exceptional goods and services, but by being conscientious about where they choose to spend their own dollars.
Brian Kenney, owner of Hi-Voltage Records, says, “I’m a small business owner, so I have a little more awareness about the importance of shopping local. I like to keep the money in the community, so I go out of my way to shop locally. I tend to buy my groceries at Metropolitan Market. It’s more expensive, but I feel good about paying more for local than saving money at a chain store.” Local business owners wanting to support other independently owned and operated businesses located in the community is a common theme.
Alison Bryan is co-owner of the popular retail store, Poppy & Co. Specializing in “expertly painted furniture, vintage and new home accents, and gift items,” Poppy & Co. is a great example of how local businesses support each other. “Everything in our store is found locally,” says Bryan, which includes the featured in-store consignors who are – you guessed it – local. Among the consignors featured at Poppy & Co. are Ferpie and Fray, Red Barn Vintage, Blue Roof Cabin, Ol’ Country Chic, It’s the Little Things, and Devon Lang’s eclectic collection of vintage “found” items.
Bryan says she’s noticed the “shop-local” culture growing in Tacoma over the past few years and says that it has really helped her and fellow business owners in finding their success. Although, Bryan’s outstanding customer service is another contributing factor to Poppy & Co.’s success. “We want people to come in and be inspired. Even if they can’t afford a piece of furniture, they can at least come in and get some ideas or some free design advice,” explains Bryan.
Boosting the local economy and supporting local businesses is huge, but shopping local provides other benefits to the consumer that you just can’t find at chain stores. Sweet pea Flaherty is the owner of Tacoma’s popular new and used bookstore, King’s Books. One of the few independently owned bookstores in the South Sound selling both new and used, Flaherty says King’s Books’ success comes from two things: the curated collection of books they stock on their shelves, and their commitment to giving back to the community.
“It’s a cycle of dollars coming in and creating community going out,” says Flaherty. Hosting a variety of enriching events, including author talks, book clubs and much more, King’s Books is more than a store, it’s a community gathering place. Although, if you do come by just to browse, you may find yourself in awe walking down each aisle and gazing upon Flaherty’s impressive collection. “I want unique items that are curated. I think that’s the strength of local shops. Specialty stores can do the work for you, so you don’t have to look at mediocre things.”
Hand-crafted and hand-picked collections of excellence seem to be a common theme among local business owners in Tacoma, and design company Year Round Co. is no exception. Creating beautiful “carefully crafted items,” co-owner Jacqui Scoggin says there is a certain level of pride that goes along with purchasing a hand-made item from a local business or vendor. “We see such amazing businesses opening up and we meet business owners that are passionate about what they do and the community they live in. There is a great feeling that comes along with shopping local; we seem to value the products a little more,” she says.
The benefits of shopping locally are many, and with so many great local businesses in Tacoma and beyond, the South Puget Sound makes it easy for consumers to find what they’re looking for without sending their dollars outside of the community.