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Analysts and pundits alike often contrast small, locally owned Main Street businesses to gigantic, faceless Wall Street financial firms. But competitively, their true foils are actually big-box stores including Costco, online retailers like Amazon, and large brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart and Target. Local consumers flock to these corporate competitors because of low prices and the large selection of products available—sometimes at the expense of local businesses.
Main Street businesses, according to the Kauffman Index definition, are local, established businesses more than five years old with fewer than fifty employees. These businesses are at the heart of many communities, and with the rise of mega-retailers, many towns have organized to back their local stores. With “buy local” or “local first” campaigns, towns like Tucson, Arizona encourage residents to keep locally owned and independent businesses thriving at the expense of deals at larger retailers.
As the following statistics make clear, Main Street businesses provide a slew of community benefits. They generate greater investment back into their local area, higher commitment from their workers, and much more. As a consumer in your own community, here’s what you should know about local businesses.
Although few consumers can shift their spending to Main Street businesses exclusively, buying a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop instead of Starbucks, or visiting a trusted garage instead of Pep Boys can be a boon to your local economy and even the environment. As the statistic on online search showed, even a positive Google or Yelp review can lead to more local business for your home community.
A great Main Street business community can’t be developed overnight—but you can work toward it through local purchasing campaigns and conscious patronage by residents. Wielding these convincing facts should certainly help.