In 1776, the Founding Fathers declared independence to gain economic freedom and local decision-making for their colonies. Somewhere along the way, American communities seemed to lose some of that freedom and decision-making power, as large national and multi-national chains crept into the marketplace. Now, more than two centuries after the original, it’s time for a new kind of Declaration of Independence – independence from the big-box stores and national chains that have taken over local economies.
To remain resilient and powerful, local economies need a diverse collection of small and independently owned businesses. Small businesses bring independence to their local economies by investing more than three times as much money per dollar of sales in their local economies than national chains and big-box stores. They also bring local decision-making, as they can handle purchasing, customer service and other matters in-house, rather than answering to a distant headquarters.
With American independence in the air this time of year, it’s important for small business owners to make their role in the community known – or, in other words, to declare their independence. Many buy local groups, including Local First Utah and Local First in Colorado, will celebrate Independents Week during the first week in July to encourage consumers to support and spread the word about buying local. But small businesses, too, can do their part by proudly promoting their local status. This promotion can take many forms, including:
- Buy local marketing materials: Window clings, point-of-sale collateral and vehicle decals will let customers know that your business is 100% local.
- Online messaging: Engage with local audiences online through social media content, blog posts and e-newsletters.
- Community involvement: Your business’s community support, such as Little League sponsorships and charity food drives, can speak for itself.
Above all else, it’s important to be proud of being local. Just as the Founding Fathers proudly declared their independence, let your local pride guide the messages you spread to neighbors and consumers. The work small businesses do for local communities and economies keeps the country more resilient and more powerful, and that’s the independence that consumers seek today.