Top 10 reasons to shop local

By Susan Cady
Posted 4/18/19

As a follow-up to our last column and the success of the Taos Woman Expo, here are 10 ways that small businesses make a profound local impact and why you should always choose to shop locally:1. …

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Top 10 reasons to shop local

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As a follow-up to our last column and the success of the Taos Woman Expo, here are 10 ways that small businesses make a profound local impact and why you should always choose to shop locally:

1. Community identity.

Take a stroll through the Plaza, John Dunn Shops, Bent Street and Kit Carson Road and you'll likely notice that our community has its own unique character and charm. From the art galleries, eclectic shopping, and tourist shops to an antiques emporium, coffee shop, diverse dining options and beyond, small businesses contribute to a lively unique ambiance that is Taos. Our municipality and tourism board have prioritized preserving the unique character our vibrant small business community creates and is now working with Taos MainStreet to strengthen all efforts.

2. Community involvement.

Small business owners are an integral part of our community - they live and work in Taos, and their children attend schools and participate in extracurricular activities in Taos. Thus, they tend to be cognizant of how their decisions may impact their neighbors. In addition, local small business entrepreneurs tend to be involved in the community. Many choose the Taos County Chamber of Commerce to stay connected. There are so many opportunities in Taos, an entity exists to share and explore all passions in our community.

3. Community well-being.

In addition to contributing to our community's unique identity and being involved locally, small business owners help to build a sense of community. Small business owners are more likely to build personal relationships with their customers, knowing many of them by name. These relationships leverage the expertise of the participants to contribute to our community's long-term success.

4. Environmental benefits.

Pedestrian-friendly town centers have their own unique vibe -- and demonstrable environmental benefits. A research report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency refers to compact, walkable downtown centers as smart growth places, noting "that businesses that locate in smart growth places can help protect environmental resources--for example, by reducing air pollution from vehicles by encouraging walking, bicycling or taking the Chile Line; or building more compactly to protect ecologically sensitive land." The report also notes that smart growth places, in turn, deliver significant economic advantages to businesses, including:

• Increased productivity and innovation

• Improved ability to compete for labor

• Stronger retail sales.

You can learn more about Smart Growth by visiting the EPA's website.

5. Increasing the tax base.

When local residents shop at small businesses within our community, their tax dollars stay within the local economy, helping to improve their community as a result. Likewise, local small businesses tend to buy locally as well, pumping more of their profits back into the community than their chain store counterparts, helping with local economic development.

6. Local jobs.

Small businesses are job creators, and most of those jobs are local jobs. Rather than having to commute to another city, employees work closer to home. Supporting local businesses also helps your fellow community members who work at them. When a community has a vibrant commercial center, it also creates ample opportunities for these workers to shop at other local small businesses. They grab lunch or dinner from local restaurants, run errands on their break and order drinks from local bars. This keeps money local and further creates a tightknit community vibe.

7. Entrepreneurship.

Small businesses are the product of the business owner's entrepreneurial spirit. By starting a small business, the business owner is taking charge of his or her future. Entrepreneurship fuels America's economic innovation and prosperity and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

In a bid to further invest in local job creation, our community has a Small Business Development Center at University of New Mexico-Taos Civic Plaza Drive location that teaches entrepreneurial skills and the Taos Entrepreneurial Network exists to create opportunities for sharing and learning. The goal with all of these initiatives is to inspire entrepreneurship and encourage continued small business development in our local community.

8. Innovation and competition.

Small businesses, like any business, need to stand out from the crowd in order to survive. They must serve a legitimate need in the community and do it better than their competitors. Having multiple small businesses all striving to be unique and innovative can result in a healthy marketplace and well-served consumers.

9. Less infrastructure and low maintenance.

Compared to shopping malls and chain stores, local shops tend to require fewer public services and less infrastructure. While a new music store owner may require a business license and occupancy permit, the process of opening a shop is much less demanding on the city planning department than building a new store would be.

10. Diverse, locally made products and services.

Our one-of-a-kind and locally made products attract others to our community, bolstering and contributing to the local vibe. Locally made goods are a draw for tourists and also attractive to residents who want to minimize their carbon footprints, support local businesses and keep their tax dollars close to home.

Contact the TCCC at taoschamber.com, (575) 751-8800 or email susan@taoschamber.com. The Taos County Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting local businesses.

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