By: Chuck Gillespie, executive director, Wellness Council of Indiana

I love the holiday season. As the kids get older, and our family and friends’ needs or wants become more about spending time with each other, it becomes more difficult to decide which gifts to buy. Don’t get me wrong, we still have wants. I’ve noticed that my daughter’s “wants” are much more expensive as she gets older.

I remember about 30 years ago when my mom dreamed of having a Christmas morning where all of the presents were handmade and/or homegrown. This was right before the internet boomed and Cyber Monday did not exist. I still like the idea of having a holiday season where everything my family gives for presents is homemade and homegrown.

“Buy Local” campaigns can be a tremendous boost to the economy of our state and your communities. Studies show that locally-owned businesses return over four times more money into the local economy compared to chain retailers. A study also concluded that shifting just 10% of purchases from national chains to locally-owned retailers would keep $27 million in the regional economy.

There is a sense of community pride when you get a strong push for a buy local philosophy. I love the Small Business Saturday buying drive. But how do we instill local consumerism year-round?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Shop locally-owned retail when possible
  • Eat at locally-owned restaurants
  • Support farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  • Utilize local services for work around your house

I know of a Wellness Council member that has a local farmer come in each week to allow its employees to buy directly from him (example of CSA).

Enjoy the holiday season. We look forward to helping you drive your community and workplace wellness initiatives to new heights in 2017.

Reasons to Buy Local

Buy Local – Support Yourself

Several studies have shown that when you buy from independent, locally-owned businesses rather than nationally-owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms – continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community. (View a variety of economic impact study summaries; these include case studies showing that locally-owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the community and our tax base.)

Support Community Groups

Non-profit organizations receive, on average, 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

Keep Our Community Unique

Where we shop, where we eat and where we have fun – all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit. “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” – Richard Moe, president, National Historic Preservation Trust

Reduce Environmental Impact

Locally-owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation, and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.

Create More Good Jobs

Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and, in our community, provide the most jobs to residents.

Get Better Service

Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.

Invest in Community

Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave and are more invested in the community’s future.

Put Your Taxes to Good Use

Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally-owned stores entering the community.

Buy What You Want, Not What Someone Wants You to Buy

A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

Encourage Local Prosperity

A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

Think local first + Buy local when you can = Being a local!