We have all heard that shopping local is important but do we really know why? Since I have been using the hash tags #shopsmallbusiness and #shoplocal I figured I should probably be a responsible "hashtagger" and really find out the significance of this important movement. In this podcast we dive into my top 5 reasons to keep it in the community and how you can make a difference by shopping local this holiday season. 

1. You support your local community including schools, police and fire departments. When you shop small, the bulk of the money you spend and most of your taxes stay local — helping schools, paving streets, keeping you safe.
2.  You help raise property values. Lively, vibrant neighborhood shopping streets are considered an advantage when selling a home.
3. When you personally know the people behind the business where you’re buying local products and services, you enjoy a connection you would not otherwise have.
4. Local businesses give a community its flavor.
5. Studies have found that a community’s level of social capital, civic engagement, and well-being is positively related to the share of its economy held by local businesses, while the presence of mega-retailers undermines social capital and civic participation.



Hey friends, oh my gosh I can't believe I have been absent for the last couple of weeks, it's been such a busy time for Graced. The holidays of course are always a busy time for retail and so I honestly just didn't get to the podcast the last couple of weeks. It was super sweet because I've had a couple of people say, "Oh my gosh, no podcast this week?" You know, asking about and that made me feel really good, like wow there's a couple people actually listening to the podcast and looking forward to the podcast. That just pretty much makes my day.

Today I actually wanted to talk about why shopping small makes a really big difference. This of course is a really pertinent topic to the holiday season and I had a couple of great interactions over the past weekend which was Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, we had an amazing turn out in the store. It just made me feel so good and so energized. It just gave you such a good feeling to see people out and about in downtown, shopping local, and you have people in the store and they would run into friends or colleagues or people they haven't seen in a long time and they were able to make some connections and we had coffee so people were standing around and trying out some Tall Bean Coffee and the hot chocolate. It just was such a great holiday feeling out there.

I had a couple of comments that made me feel so good. One of them was a lady who was with about maybe her 20 year old daughter and she said to me, "I was just telling my daughter that this is how Manitowoc used to be, it used to be busy, people used to be downtown shopping, and it's starting to feel that way again." So that made me feel great.
 Then I had another guy who he was shopping with his wife and when they came to check out they were telling me that they live in Minneapolis now but that he was from the Manitowoc area and he said, "Thank you so much for what you're doing to just bring life back into Manitowoc," and that just made my day. I mean it's comments like that that made me feel like yeah, we are making a difference and we are bringing some vitality back to the downtown area. 

Yeah, it was just really refreshing and that got me thinking about why it's so important to shop small and we throw that term around quite a bit, shop local, shop small, but I really wanted to dig into that and find out why. Why is that so important? Like I said we just throw it around but we never really talk about why that's important. I went back and I found some articles that have been published online and I'm gonna share some links to these articles but even back in 2009 Time Magazine published an article about shopping small and they were saying that it's more than just a feel good, it's worth paying more for local matter. Researchers are actually taking a closer look at how money is flowing and how it is effecting the economy by keeping money in town and how the fate of many communities around the US and the world are increasingly depending on people shopping local.


I kept reading more about it and found several reasons why it's really, really important to keep money in your community. The first reason was that when you keep money in your community your taxes actually go to support schools and fire departments and police departments. The bulk of the money that is spent in a local area stays local, so the taxes stay local. It helps pay for those schools, paving the streets, and keeping you safe.
 According to research from Civic Economics for every $100 you spend if you spend it at a local community business $68 of that $100 will stay in your community and impact your local economy, but if you spend that money at a chain store only $43 remain in your community. If you spend that money online virtually no money stays local. I know all of us are really into it's Cyber Monday today, we're totally into shopping online. I know that I shop online and I love it, but this is really illustrating why it's so important to keep that money in your community and to shop local.

Another thing that I never had thought about is that if you spend money locally it actually raises your property values. I was kind of like, "Hm, how does it raise property values? I'm not really sure how that works." But it actually ... if there's a lively, vibrant neighborhood with shopping and cafes it's actually considered an advantage when selling a home. It's actually very ideal and very attractive to home buyers to have a really vibrant community, especially if it's in the area where they can walk to that downtown community so it makes the property more valuable which of course we all want our property to be more valuable. I thought that was really cool.


The other thing is that when you shop local you're really strengthening your community because local business owners often support other local business and other charities and I've talked about this before in that when Graced does well I'm more able to contribute money to community causes and charitable organizations and since I've started Graced and have gotten to be more in touch with my community I have learned so much more about other small businesses and I've been spending more of my money downtown and with local businesses. 
 Local business owners often have incentive to support other local businesses but when you show at a chain store or a chain business they get all their supplies from corporate and they get all their advertising from corporate and they really aren't as invested in working with other business owners or small business in the community.


Another cool thing, and this has been so huge for Graced, is that when you shop locally you get to personally know the people behind the business and this has been so cool. I've talked about this before, a great example of this is Tall Bean Coffee. So Candace and Kevin own Tall Bean Coffee, they roast their coffee, fair trade organic beans, right in Manitowoc, and it's such a good feeling to know where your coffee is coming from and it's so cool to be able to walk into Graced when Candace is working and she can tell you all about Tall Bean Coffee, everything you need to know about coffee, the best way to brew it. She is just a wealth of knowledge and then once you get to know them you're personally invested, like you want to support them and you want to buy their coffee and it's just again, just that great feeling you get of knowing where your products are coming from and knowing who is behind the business. Having that face behind the business.

Another example of this is Henry Handcrafted Dog Treats. Lauren and her husband and their awesome dog Henry live right in the community as well and they've several times have come to Graced and did meet and greets and were able to talk to customers about their products. It's really cool just to put that face with a product. Another local artist I work with, Carol from Happenstance by Chance, she does these wonderful local scenes from the community, and it's just so neat to know the people who are stocking the store. That's the benefit of Graced, getting to know the small business owners not only in our community but those small business owners that I work with within the state of Wisconsin and across the US. It's so fun to get to know them and hear their backstories, see pictures of their lives, and just know this is where our products are coming from and it just makes you feel really, really good.

The other thing about shopping local and why it's important to have a lot of local businesses and small businesses is that local businesses give community its identity. They give the community its local flavor. I don't know about your but I noticed lately when I travel, especially my husband and I travel back and forth to Denver quite a bit because his family is in Colorado and I just notice that when we get to larger ares with the bigger populations everything is exactly the same as it is in Manitowoc or Milwaukee or another big city in Wisconsin. There's all the same big box stores, there's all the same restaurants, all the same coffee places, all the same you name it, and they're all arranged the same in these little parts of property right off of the interstate so that it's easy to get to but it's all same. Like I can walk into a big box store, the same store across the country and it is gonna have the exact same products. 


Now, that's a benefit of course in a lot of ways and I'm not gonna lie, I love my Target as much as next girl but it's those local stores that really make a community stand out and again give it its local flavor. Of course those stores are one of a kind or two of a kind and so it just shakes things up, gives you a different perspective and when you support those businesses instead of the big chain stores you ensure that uniqueness is preserved as part of your community so that when people come to your community they're not gonna have just the same stores that they have in their community.

I found a really cool infographic that the shared a while back and I will link to it in the show notes, but it talks about how just a little bit of change can equal a big payoff. If only 10% of spending in let's say the San Francisco area, is the example they gave, if you took 10% of spending and gave it to local businesses the residents of San Francisco would generate 192 million dollars in additional economic activity for their area and it would create almost 1,300 new jobs. I mean like how cool is that? To me this really illustrates that when you choose to shop small and when you choose to support local business that you really, really are making an impact. 

Now there are a ton of studies going on right now about shopping local, about co-ops, about small business, and like I said there's just so many benefits and it so much excitement around this.I also found another stat that was in the Huffington Post, it's another example of if every family in the US spent just an extra $10 per month at a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain over 9.3 billion dollars would be directly returned to our economy. 

Think about this, if you came into Graced and you bought one pound of Tall Bean Coffee every month and you spent $12 on that one bag of Tall Bean Coffee you are making a huge impact for your community. If you choose just to come in, buy your coffee for the month at Graced instead of picking it up at your local grocery store or local chain store I should say, you're gonna make a huge impact. If everybody came to Graced and bought Tall Bean Coffee, man we would be doing great, if everybody in the city who drank coffee. As a reminder, Tall Bean Coffee is the coffee that is served at Manitowoc Coffee which is on East Street right down the road from Graced. If you love Manitowoc Coffee you can come on in and buy a bag of Tall Bean Coffee at Graced and it's only $12 a bag, so it's a super good deal as well.

All of these statistics have just really opened my eyes to why it's important to shop local, shop small, and support your local community wherever you live. Try to find those stores that are different and this holiday try to find gifts that are different, that are unique, and that you can't get at the mall or at Target. Get the gifts that no one else is going to have and that's what's gonna make a gift really, really special.

I hope you guys really enjoyed this episode, it's a short episode but I just wanted to talk about why this is so important and really just challenge you to walk the walk, shop local, and if you're in the local area if you are in the Wisconsin area, Manitowoc area, I'd love for you to stop in to Graced, even just check it out. Even if you don't buy anything I want people to be inspired when they shop. I don't know about you but I am tired of seeing the same things over and over and over again. I love finding those places that have unique displays, that are just different, and that are not cookie cutter. Even if you're just looking for a little inspiration we'd love for you to stop in.

That wraps it up for today. Just a couple of things going on at Graced, our Christmas boxes were actually mailed this morning. I got them out and the Winter Graced box is gonna be going out later this week and yeah, we're just totally ramping up here for December. We had a great Black Friday and Small Business Saturday so thank you. 

If you need to get some shopping done and you're not from the local area you can go to and you can get some Christmas shopping done and we'll just drop it in the mail to you and you'll support a small business. I hope everybody has a great week and I will be back next week.

Happy Holidays!!!




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