Each year about this time, I like to remind residents of the critical need to spend their dollars locally. With the holiday shopping season upon us, it is a good time to reflect on the many great retailers that call Chandler home. Many of them are our neighbors – people who have taken the risk to run their own business and live the American dream.
Not that long ago, the biggest choice we faced when shopping was “paper or plastic?” Now, competition is tough. Online “e-tailers” and national chains have many advantages over the many unique, local businesses. But ultimately, the decision lies with you and me in how and where we choose to shop.
Several years ago, the City of Chandler launched a campaign called “Invest Wisely, Shop Chandler” to encourage residents to spend their dollars at retail stores and restaurants located within the city limits. The initiative was meant to help our community pull out of the Great Recession, and has largely been successful.
Our local economy is heavily dependent on sales tax revenue generated by transactions that occur within our city boundaries. The revenue from every dollar spent in Chandler helps support core municipal services such as police and fire protection, parks and recreation programs, new roads, and basic maintenance. Dollars spent in Chandler benefit our community – while online purchases with out-of-state companies do nothing.
I strongly believe that locally owned businesses have vested interests in the region where others do not. They are more likely to invest back into the community through corporate giving, aiding area food banks and other social service agencies that rely tremendously on donations they receive from the private sector to operate.
Many studies show that independent businesses also tend to reinvest more of their dollars in the community by contracting with local suppliers. There is what is called a “multiplier effect” for shopping at community-based stores. For each dollar spent at a local independent store, three times or more gets filtered back into the community compared to a dollar spent at a chain business.
Perhaps as importantly, patronizing small businesses builds a greater sense of pride in the community. Residents are likely to stay closer to home if they feel more connected. Don’t you enjoy the experience of shopping or dining out better if you are acknowledged by name from a familiar face?
I admit it is easy to be drawn to the attraction of shopping at the last minute at large retail stores or online. Before you do, check out the sites the city of Chandler and the nonprofit agency Local First have created to remind residents of the importance of shopping locally. The websites www.chandleraz.gov/shop and www.localfirstaz.com provide business directories and other tools to make informed consumer decisions.
Here’s a New Year’s resolution you can start a little early: Make a concerted effort to patronize retail stores and restaurants in Chandler. Your contributions will help our local business community remain successful while helping to keep our city programs and service levels among the best in the nation. So shoppers, will that be paper or plastic?
• Rick Heumann is an elected member of the Chandler City Council.