Last night we watched the documentary Independent America: The Two-Lane Search for Mom & Pop, recommended to me by KateArch1978.
The movie made us think about some things we just hadn't before. For example, we've become more and more diligent about finding locally owned places to dine when we travel, yet it never occurred to us to not stay at the Marriott or Holiday Inn Express, instead searching out a bed and breakfast or local motel.
Over the seven years StfRon and I have been traveling together, we've run across more and more towns like some that Hanson and Heather drove through, with awesome historic downtown districts, all but abandoned for big box stores and chain restaurants near Interstates.
Well over a decade ago, I went to Seattle with some friends and marveled at the coffee shops on every corner. I don't even recall if we saw a Starbucks or knew what one was at the time, but now you can find six locations in Peoria alone.
About six years ago, we laughed on one of our trips after StfRon had to pull over at a Culver's in Wisconsin and ask what the heck a butterburger was. Now you can find one in Peoria, East Peoria and Pekin.
This last trip of ours, we were discouraged to head south, where we thought we would be ensconced in collard greens and fried green tomatoes, only to find location after location of McDonald's, Culver's and McAllister's Deli — home of the sweet tea — which will soon grace our own University Street in front of Schnuck's.
Someone in the documentary commented about shifting just 10% of your spending to local businesses, and what a huge impact it can have. A study was done in San Francisco, and found that this 10% shift could generate $192 million in economic activity and about 1,300 new jobs.
Granted, in central Illinois, the monetary gain would be less, but the impact would still be great.
Driving to work today I was thinking about the 10% local rule. Say you take a chunk of time, like one month, or 30 days. 10% would be only three days out of that 30 day period. So, we're talking about one day a week, considering to make purchases at locally owned businesses, if you purchase things 30 times in a month.
If you just bought your cup of coffee once a month from a locally owned business; had dinner out once a month at a local restaurant; bought that book, magazine or newspaper once a month at a local shop; had your hair cut at a locally owned salon once a month; bought a loaf of bread at a locally owned bakery...there are so many possibilities that could add up to shifting 10% of your business to local places.
It probably wouldn't cost you any more, and could end up saving you money on gas, if your local joint is convenient to work or home.
I find that the cost of not doing this has the potential to be far greater, leading to a loss of stalwart businesses and/or loss of choice in what you can buy, if all that's left is the big boxes and chains.
Actually, I find that over the last few years, I have shifted more than 10% of my spending to local businesses, but I could still make a lot of improvements. Something for me to strive for...