This holiday season, think outside the mall. If you choose to shop, make your gifts more meaningful by finding items that are truly representative of Steveston, not something that can be found on any shelf, in any town. Steveston is home to a number of locally owned restaurants and specialty shops. Yet, many of these independently owned establishments face the threat of being run out of business by corporate chains and the escalation of hyper-competitive online shopping. Keeping your favorite mom-and-pop shops around requires a conscious effort and faithful commitment to choosing to buy locally.
There are so many reasons why shopping locally is the most economically beneficial choice for the community. Independent retail shops carry handmade items crafted by local or regional artisans, just as many independent restaurants focused on sustainability incorporate locally grown and seasonal produce into their menus’ recipes. Because these business owners recognize the importance of purchasing goods and services from other independently operated businesses, they are much more efficient at circulating money back into the local economy than chain stores which seldom, if ever, utilize locally sourced items. Building inventory through local purchasing also reduces our environmental impact, since less transportation is involved.
Small, independently owned businesses are adaptable when it comes to utilizing available rental space in their towns, and require comparatively lower infrastructure costs than nationally owned stores which typically demand uniform facilities. Whereas chains’ profits go back to corporate headquarters out of town, almost everything spent at locally owned businesses is guaranteed to stay within the community.
Because business owners are more focused on their own interests than on national trends, a community of locally owned businesses is able to offer a very wide array of products and niche outlets. Preserving this diversity in an increasingly homogenized world is essential in promoting community growth and prosperity, as it brings in tourists seeking destinations with distinctive character and entrepreneurs looking to settle in an area friendly towards new start-ups and innovation.
Truly recognizing and caring about the needs of their community, locally owned businesses donate to local nonprofit organizations much more frequently than their big-box adversaries. They’re also more flexible when it comes to strengthening the community through joining local organizations.
One of the greatest aspects of shopping locally is that you often get an opportunity to establish connections with the owners themselves.
photo by Clayton Perry