By Mary Alice Scott
This year, we built our Gift Guide into something bigger and better than we’ve ever done before. You can find the full guide – with 60+ ideas from local businesses – at www.portlandgiftguide.com. AND each gift idea links directly to the website of the local business who sells it. In many cases, you can purchase the item online, making a safe local shopping experience for everyone.
Your purchases can make a big difference. When you shop at a locally owned, independent business, 76% more of your money stays right here in Portland.
If everyone in Cumberland County shifted just 10% of their shopping to locally owned businesses, it would generate an additional $127 million in local economic activity. In addition, it would generate 874 jobs.
Beyond the economics
The benefits of a strong local business community go beyond the economic impact. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance looked at several studies that analyzed local business impact on the community. They found that “a community’s level of social capital, civic engagement, and well-being is positively related to the share of its economy held by local businesses, while the presence of mega-retailers … undermines social capital and civic participation.”
Throughout this year, we’ve seen how important those social ties are. Imagine how much more difficult life is without the connections we have to one another. It’s an extreme example of what our communities could feel like with a dwindling number of local businesses.
If we want to return to having a city that is vibrant, unique, and filled with a sense of community, this is the most critical month to support local businesses. The next months are the slowest season for many public-facing businesses. During the winter months, they rely on income from December to help pay their fixed costs (like Portland’s very expensive commercial rents).
Buy local – and use our Gift Guide as a launchpad! Ensure our local business community is still there at the end of winter.
Mary Alice Scott is Portland Buy Local Executive Director.
Discloser: Publisher Tony Zeli is president of the board of directors and a media partner.