Shop local

We all know the saying, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” Well, the same goes for keeping our local communities and economies healthy and strong. If we don’t shop and dine small and support our local community businesses, we will lose them, and our economy will suffer as a result.

Our local communities and economy depend on keeping people working. Today, there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States. About half of all American workers are either employed by a small business or own a small business. And two out of three new jobs are created by small businesses.

Communities with a high unemployment rate, or that are considered low-income areas, frequently have higher crime rates as well. Patronizing your local shops and restaurants is an easy way to keep people employed and, in turn, keep them from turning to other less savory ways of earning a living.  

It is important to note that small businesses, especially retail shops and restaurants in leased spaces, usually have very small profit margins, which means they need to charge more to support the business. Also, businesses with employees have additional costs associated with being an employer that are mandated by federal, state, and local regulations. These expenses increase their overhead costs and, again, increase what they must charge to stay afloat.

It can be devastating to a small business and the livelihood of its employees if they must close for even a short period of time due to unforeseen circumstances. We recently saw this happen in Poway. The heavy rainfall around Thanksgiving caused bacterial contamination of the city water system, which resulted in local restaurants having to close until the issue was resolved. The businesses lost several days of revenue as well as the cost of lost perishable food items that were not used during the closure. In addition, their employees lost income they were depending on to support themselves and their families. Many people live with just enough money to cover their living expenses, so the loss of several days of work and pay can cause hardship for them. The restaurants are back in business, but many are still struggling. The city of Poway, as well as local community and business organizations, are rallying for the local restaurants, encouraging community members, and those in surrounding communities to dine out frequently and tip well to help them recoup some of their losses and their employees recover from their temporary reduction in income.

In today’s world of “smart” technology and online shopping, it can be a convenient and often a budget friendly way to go, but we need to consider its overall effect on our community and economy. We know that online shopping is not going away and will even become more prevalent. However, we encourage you to be aware that by shopping and dining small and within your local community, you are supporting it and those who live and work in it. Our overall economy depends on the jobs created and maintained by small businesses. If we do not try to shop and dine small and local, our communities will not thrive and support our economy and way of life.

If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur or are a business owner in need of assistance in order to maintain or grow your business, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) is here to help. For more information about SBA’s programs to assist in the areas of financing, government contracting, training, and free business counseling, visit www.sba.gov.

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