Economic Development, Retail, and Small Business & Startups

15 ways to shift your spending to local this year

January 31, 2018
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Take a moment to think about the power of your wallet or pocketbook. Believe it or not, you have the ability to use your hard-earned money to not only support yourself and your family, but also strengthen your local community and economy by keeping your dollars local. 

Supporting local means investing in your neighborhood and community. Research shows when you spend $100 at a local business, $68 stays in your community, with those dollars going toward local taxes, wages, local supplies and more. However, when you spend $100 at a non-local business, $43 stays in your community. It’s clear the impact can add up when we keep our dollars moving throughout our local communities.

As we celebrate 15 years of supporting local this year, we hope you will also celebrate with us by shifting 10 percent (or more) of your spending to locally owned businesses. Here are 15 ideas to get you started:

1. Stock up on office supplies. Printer toner, paper clips, pens, folders and paper — the list never ends! The next time you need to put in an order for office supplies, consider ordering from a local office supply store.   

2. Walk, bike, ride or carpool to a different part of town. West Michigan is home to dozens of vibrant neighborhoods and business districts. The next time you need to do some shopping or grab dinner with friends, venture out of your neighborhood and check out a new part of town.

3. Use a local tax expert. It’s that time of year again to file taxes. Take the headache out of filing your taxes by hiring a local accounting firm to help you stay organized and get the most out of your return. 

4. Hot off the press. Every business has printing needs, even if you’re trying to reduce your environmental footprint. From printing event invitations to annual meeting reports, to business cards, to letterhead, to coffee cups, use a local printer for all of your printing needs.

5. Put a bird on it. Is it time to freshen up the decor in your office or home? Support your local artists. Attend local art shows or explore local art galleries to find new artwork when re-decorating.

6. Get fit. If it’s your New Year’s resolution to take better care of your health, sign up for a membership at a locally owned gym. There are a number of awesome, locally owned gyms that can help you get your sweat on.

7. Make your dollars count. Local banks and credit unions are committed to supporting the local economic growth of our communities. Consider taking your investments to a locally owned financial institution to make an impact with your hard-earned dollars.

8. Fix up your house. Do you find yourself heading out to 28th Street or Alpine when you need to do a home repair? Save yourself the trip and stop by your neighborhood hardware stores for supplies.

9. Impress your foodie friends. Hosting a get-together with friends and family? Give your guests a spread they will never forget at your next party by catering with food and treats from locally owned restaurants.

10. Become a member of a community supported agriculture, or CSA, program. Support our local farmers by becoming a member of a CSA. This program allows consumers to directly support their local farmers by purchasing a “share” from the farm. This relationship can come in many forms but typically consists of a payment exchange from the consumer to the producer at the beginning of the season. This payment buys the consumer a weekly box of fresh, local produce that they can enjoy throughout the growing season.

11. Show your love for local social media. Many small businesses don’t have large marketing budgets to help get the word out about their business. Help out the businesses you love by checking in on Facebook or posting photos of their shops to your networks and tagging them in your posts.

12. Host an unforgettable party. Whether you’re planning a celebration for work or planning a wedding, there are plenty of local vendors that can help you create a memorable event, including local table and tent rental suppliers, photographers and florists.  

13. Curl up with a good book. There’s nothing better than unwinding with a good book on the weekend or at the end of a long day. While it’s tempting to download another book online for your iPad or Kindle, consider picking up a cozy paper copy from your local independent bookstore.  

14. Make gift giving easy. Need to give a gift in a pinch? The next time a birthday or special holiday comes up, consider giving gift cards to local businesses you love to spread the word to your friends, family and co-workers.

15. Use the Local First directory to find locally owned businesses. Not sure where to look for locally owned businesses? Our business directory can help you locate hundreds of businesses across a variety of industries, making it easy to find new ways to shift 10 percent of your spending to local businesses. 

Communities thrive when neighbors buy from locally owned businesses, and local spending has the power to do great things for our community. Remember, when you spend your dollars at a locally owned business, you’re creating a ripple effect. You’re not just helping that small business owner earn more revenue, you’re also supporting that small business’ employees and their families. Join us this year in making your dollars count by supporting local. 

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