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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

7 Reasons to Buy Local

During the holiday season, downtown businesses across the country encourage residents to “go local.” But why is shopping locally so important? We asked Janeen Murray, director of the Sonoma County business cooperative GOLOCAL, to answer that question. Here are her seven reasons for patronizing area businesses.

1. Local Return Basically this means keeping dollars in the local economy. “When $100 is spent at a locally owned business, more than three times [that amount]…gets reinvested locally,” Murray reveals. For instance, a company may use that $100 to hire a local printer, lawyer, or accountant. When that money is spent at a nonlocal business “a large amount of those dollars gets shunted off to the corporate headquarters outside of Sonoma County,” she says. Murray likens spending money at nonlocal stores to blowing up a helium balloon that’s destined to float far, far away.

2. Jobs Locally owned businesses create more local jobs, which are usually stable and embedded in the economy. A local person who starts a business “is less likely to move away and move their headquarters to another area than, say, some business that isn’t invested in the community,” Murray asserts.

3. Community Character “Communities that preserve one-of-a-kind locally owned businesses tend to have a more distinctive character,” Murray explains. And this can actually serve their economies. After all, tourists don’t come to Sonoma County to visit Wal-Mart; they want to stroll through its downtowns and visit its vineyards.

4. Donations “Locally owned businesses are much more likely to donate to local nonprofits, schools, and community organizations than businesses that aren’t based locally,” Murray says. These financial investments contribute to a community’s well being, increasing the sense of good will between businesses and their neighbors.

5. Community–Based Decisions Local business owners are more likely to take into account the needs of their communities when they make decisions whereas nonlocal owners may only have their businesses’ interests at heart.

6. Sustainability Shopping at area businesses can decrease the use of fossil fuels. For instance, walking around to different downtown stores uses less gas than driving from one strip mall or big-box store to the next. In addition, Murray notes, local shops tend to offer products that have been made in the area, and that means less fuel used for shipping. Calculate the amount of fuel it takes to ship jewelry crafted in Petaluma to a store in Sebastopol as opposed to jewelry made in China to the same store, and you get the picture.

7. Entrepreneurial and Product Diversity Buying local supports a variety of area entrepreneurs, from software developers to farmers. This creates healthy competition and a diverse selection of products from which the consumer may choose. As businesses grow, more local jobs are created (see number 2). “Buying a locally made soap…helps a local soap maker to increase [her or his] business and hire more people,” who do not have to commute out of the area to have jobs, Murray says. 

To find out more about GOLOCAL and its more than 400 participating businesses, go to Visit any participating business to get a GOLOCAL card, which, when used at some businesses, offers rewards to local consumers.