Friday, February 8, 2008

With the closing of Zander Cafe our community is down one important business. As our economy slips into that dreaded "R" word that no one really wants to mention, but is all too real; now, more than ever, there is a need to focus our attention on where we shop and why we shop where we do.

The fact is independently-owned businesses help the local economy. A study done by Civic Economics and published by Livable City in Austin, Texas showed that every $100 spent at chain stores puts $13 back in the local economy, while the same $100 spent at a locally-owned store puts $45 back into circulation in the area. With all the talk of tax rebates and economic stimulus package and everyone wondering just what to do about the situation we find ourselves in, here we have something concrete that can be done to help the economy.

We've all heard the arguments for buying local and independent: knowledgeable sales people; inventory chosen by that staff to represent the desires of the customer, rather than by a corporate office only concerned with bottom-line issues; quality of product; et al. But these are only discussion points for the dinner table if we don't put them into action and actually start buying from the people who have literally set up shop in our communities in an effort to not only advance their businesses, but to advance the communities where they put those businesses. A quick scan of home addresses of local business owners in any area would show an important point: the owners (and many times, most of the staff) live where they have chosen to work; they are invested in ways that chain retailers are not.

So, here in Cathedral Hill we're--is mourning too strong a word? If so, we're thinking of a neighbor who had been a staple of this neighborhood, but who has now shut down operation. In times of economic despair, the big businesses will survive; they have the money backing them to outlast the rough tide. The same cannot be said with any certainty for the smaller, independent shops.

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