Kids believe that midgets in an Arctic sweatshop fabricate their Christmas loot. Kids also believe that some overseas importer in a garish red suit blows off tariffs and tax laws every Dec. 25 to flood the market with said loot. Kids can believe this story, but grown-up consumers know better. They know “The North Pole,” for instance, is often just a sneaky moniker for “China.” And because grown-ups know this, Genevieve King is asking shoppers to throw local businesses a bone. This Christmas, do the local economy a favor, King says, and buy locally.
King, who serves as executive director of the Missoula Sustainable Business Council (SBC), points out that only 14 cents of every dollar spent at a chain store stays in Missoula. Shop local and that number jumps to 65 cents. To that end, King and the SBC are campaigning hard this holiday season to educate the public about the importance of keeping their dollars in the local economy. It’s just one of many efforts by Missoula organizations this holiday season to promote area businesses. In fact, the Indy launched its “We Heart Local Business” campaign in this week’s issue.
“This holiday is particularly important due to the financial situation we find ourselves in as a country,” King says. “One of the most important things you can do in a time of recession is to strengthen the local economy. It’s how your economy becomes recession-proof.”
The impact of spending locally shouldn’t be breaking news, but King is surprised by how few people are aware of how it bolsters the economy. This summer, SBC board members stood outside local retailers and asked people what shaped their decision to choose a particular establishment.
“Of course price was right up there on top,” she says. “And so was convenience, but the vast majority of people did not have any idea that [shopping locally] makes any difference at all.”
Specifically for the holiday season, the SBC purchased billboard, print and television ads reminding consumers to shop locally and supplied businesses with gift tags that read, “I Cared Enough to Shop Local.”