Shop local to spread happiness

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By Barbara Manley Edds

"If the community is happy, then they support your business and if your business is doing well, then you can give back more to the community."  – Magic Johnson

I know you’ve been reading much in the news about the importance of shopping local. 

Every day, there are more reasons for you to support your local businesses, and I would like to share a few more that may not be so obvious.

As more and more big box stores open, more and more “mom and pop” stores have been forced out of business. 

The University of Iowa conducted an intensive study of new Wal-marts and found 84 percent of sales simply shifted dollars away from existing local merchants. 

When you look at the big picture, you will find that a portion of the value of a local merchant is that they utilize more local businesses and services. They hire architects, designers, sign makers, insurance brokers, computer support, advertising agencies, and attorneys to conduct their business. Local businesses tend to use more products that are made locally.

A chain store puts in a store exactly like all of its other stores. It does not utilize local planning, and does not typically use local services or products. 

The profits are sent to the corporate 


Local retailers will stock goods that appeal to their customers – they look for unique one-of-a-kind items and will almost always try to special order for you if 


At the chains, what you see is what you get.  

I don’t know about you, but it disturbs me that a few buyers from the chains choose what is available to me, especially when it comes to books, news sources and even household items. How many times lately have you gone to one of the chains to find something you’ve used for years, and suddenly – it’s just not there? If you can find someone to ask about the item, you will most likely be told that “we didn’t get that in” or “we don’t carry that anymore.”

Local business owners have much of their life savings tied up in their businesses and support their communities in many ways. 

They serve on local boards and support local causes. Ask any non-profit and they will tell you that local businesses are their base of support. 

Some corporate chains do give back to the community where they are located, they are not all bad, just as all local businesses are not good. 

I can tell you personally that the business members of Discover Downtown La Grange do much to support their community and causes. 

We normally do joint donations in the form of gift baskets that the charities usually auction off as fundraisers. Not once have I put out a call to the businesses for donations that I have been refused.  

Without hesitation I usually get “sure, we would be glad to help”, and occasionally I will get “things are tight right now, but we can do something, when do you need it?” 

I don’t know about you, but I appreciate eating at a local restaurant where I know the food is not sent in pre-packaged-ready-to-thaw-out units to be put on a plate and sent out to me. 

I like knowing I can go to The Irish Rover Too, Big R’s, Serendipity, The Red Pepper, and Delizie Italiane and get “made by their own hands” food.  

All I’m asking is the next time you get in your car to drive miles into the next county to shop or dine, why not save some gas and frustration with traffic and come shop and support your local businesses?  It’s a win-win situation!


Barbara Manley Edds is executive director of Discover Downtown La Grange. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.