Asheville Grown Business Alliance is a grassroots organization whose mission is to support independently owned businesses in the community, to continue growing a vibrant local economy while preserving the unique character of Asheville and to educate consumers on the critical importance of thinking locally first when considering the impact of national and global chains.
Over the past few decades we, as a society, have altered our consumer behavior. The availability of goods and services produced around the world has shifted patterns in our communities and our environment, effecting the integrity and sustainability of local economies around the world.
For instance, as a consumer oriented, capitalist society, we are learning that cheaper is not always better. When the textile mills and the furniture factories closed down close to home, the Carolinas suffered greatly. The true cost of manufacturing these items cheaply became very expensive over time. With obesity rates increasing drastically, we are learning that some of the cheapest food eventually has a very expensive price.
We are also learning from previous failed attempts at urban renewal that the revitalization of downtowns can be a very viable and appealing alternative. In addition, by finding alternative energy sources, we are expanding our options for self-reliance and lessening our dependence on unstable countries in the Middle-East. Over the past ten years, through extensive research, we are seeing that local independent businesses recycle more money back into the local economy and give greater support to a community’s civic, non-profit and employment needs. They are better positioned to respond to the special needs of the community and more tied to the community’s future. Buy local campaigns are all about mobilizing all communities, here and abroad, to become as strong as possible through mutual support for the goal of self-reliance. Though we are currently focused on creating a dialogue and an educational platform in the Asheville community, we have reproduced the posters to be relevant to neighboring communities like Marshall and Black Mountain and are in collaboration with Franklin on developing similar awareness in their town.
Further, we want people to know that we are not telling anyone where or where not to shop, we are educating consumers on how much of a difference it makes to shift our defaults. Sometimes we shop at a chain because it is the fist place that comes to mind, it is our default, when, however, we realize how much of a positive effect it makes if we purchase that book at a locally owned and independent bookstore or get our meal at an independent restaurant, hopefully, our default will shift. We are letting consumers know that we are voting with our dollars when we make the choice of where to spend money. Every dollar spent at a locally owned and independent establishment is a vote to keep Asheville’s independent spirit growing.
Billions of our tax dollars go to subsidize big business and state and local governments do very little to support the growth of small business, however, small businesses continue to thrive and comprise the lions share of the U.S. economy. Ninety-nine percent of all firms in the United States are small businesses, but national and global corporations dominate our culture, demand the vast majority of our tax dollars through subsidies and are largely responsible for profit driven instead of community driven motives.
Knowing that each purchase you make triggers a purchase of others, simple economics suggests there would be an advantage to keeping money circulating within a defined tax region. Community economics uses the multiplier effect to reveal the more times a dollar circulates within a geographic region and the faster it is exchanged without leaving the area, more wealth and jobs that are generated.
Studies have shown that if half the population spent $50 each month in a locally owned independent business $42.6 billion in revenue would be generated. Additionally, of every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the local economy whereas if spent at a chain only $43 returns and if spent online, nothing returns. Local independent businesses, by definition, recycle more money back into the local economy and give greater support to a community’s non-profit and civic needs. They are better positioned to respond to the special needs of the community and more tied to the community’s future.
Finally, we would like to point out that this is about more than economics; it is about a community that is learning how to meet most of its own needs with its own resources.
We would love to continue the dialogue and welcome any ideas, suggestions or questions.
Asheville Grown Business Alliance
Also See Part 1