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The Power of Choice

February 9, 2012 in News

Every time you make a purchase, you’re exercising your power of choice in a way that has a powerful impact on your local community. Supporting locally owned businesses is a choice that leads to a higher quality of life for your family, your friends and your neighbors in the long run. Let me explain. A study of retail economics showed that spending $100 at one of our neighborhood’s independent businesses creates $68 in additional local economic activity, while traveling out of the area and spending $100 at a chain store or big box store produces only $43 worth of impact for that community, and loss of $168 for our valley’s economy.

In other words, your local independent businesses employ a wide array of supporting services. They hire you the local people such as electricians, plumbers, contractors, accountants, local freight companies, insurance agents, newspaper employees, computer specialists, bankers, attorneys, printers, and many others to help run their businesses. In contrast the big box stores typically rely on their own outside groups who handle all national accounts from one location, and then the profits are swiftly exported out of the region to their corporate headquarters. It is your choice. Do we undermine our local economy by draining our communities’ assets to benefit a distant city, corporation and its shareholders?

For every two jobs that big retailers bring to a community, three jobs are lost as a result of local businesses closing. National chains are often given unfair advantage over local competitors through sweetheart deals such as tax subsidies granted by unwary local governments starved for sales tax revenues. These agencies are now starting to see that the one-time tax revenue is only one part of the full cost of accounting when looking at the local economic picture. Some communities are now experiencing the damage to their local economies for not looking at the whole picture of small businesses vs giant retailers. Local small business owners with their life savings invested in their companies have a tremendous interest in the long term health of their community.

The latest numbers from U.S. Department of Labor show consumers here in the West spent on average $44,728 in 2002 for housing, food, apparel and services, transportation, health care, entertainment, insurance and pensions. If we take this number for discussion purposes and multiply it by 5,000 (estimated number of Star Valley households) this equals $223.64 million dollars in estimated spending by our residents annually. It is reasonable that if these purchases were made locally, an additional $152 million could be realized in our local Star Valley economy all trickling back to each of us in a variety of ways. A healthy local economy creates opportunities like swimming pools, community centers, and other capital improvements for our communities as well as new and needed employment opportunities.

The valley is changing and some retailers have built new stores, others have opened new businesses. Retailing is in a transition period and is improving. Local retailing will improve at the rate in which we as consumers choose to sustain and include them. We all have reasons or stories of why we shop outside the area. I would recommend talking to that retailer(s) and voice your concerns to improve your local shopping experience. I know they will listen to you.

We have all bought outside the area, sometimes without choice, however each time we spend a dollar, we would do well to weigh the full value of our choice, not solely to our immediate benefit, but for the future we want in our own hometowns. Every time you shop locally you’re truly casting a vote for a healthier Star Valley. Buying locally is nothing more than financially investing in yourself, your family, your friends and your neighbors and most of all the towns we all call home.


Mark Hunter

April 2005


References: U.S. Census Bureau News, publications CB03-25, CB04-97 (to 108)

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Feb. 2004

Hometown Advantage, Economic Impact Studies, Oct. 2004

Adersonville Study, Economics Impact Studies Oct. 2004

Jeff Milchen, Benefits of Doing Business Jan. 2000


1 response to The Power of Choice

  1. Great post! Now if we assume approx. 200,000 households in Wyo. that moves the total close to $9 Billion. Keeping as much money in Wyo. as possible is the single most powerful job creation opportunity we have.

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