Many of us like to forget Bloomington, a hub of information, learning and growth, is also a small-town.
But even in the smallest of towns, small business owners can mean big business for their community.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 54 percent of all U.S. sales are made by the 28 million small businesses in our country.
Buying local may seem like a fad movement, like veganism or KONY 2012, but it’s one everyone should get behind, especially if they want their place of residence to prosper.
Funding your local economy takes little effort, and chances are you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
Imagine the following typical scenario:
You and your pals want to have a night filled with adventure and clubbing, so you decide to visit the Back Door.
During breaks of fresh air outside, you stop by the Big Cheeze food truck and snag a Mac Daddy with bacon.
After a night of dancing and a bit too much drinking, you, like half the IU student population, frequent Village Deli to ward off the aches and quakes of a hangover.
You remember your pantry is running a little low on supplies, so you visit Bloomingfoods to stock up.
After your partying escapade, you want a quiet night, so you visit the Buskirk-Chumley Theater to watch a classic film.
See how easy that was?
And you supported your community that much more in under 24-hours.
Personally, I’m fairly new to the small-town experience.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Monroe County had about 143,400 residents in 2014.
The county in Georgia where I grew up had almost 731,000.
Yet, even in a well populated city that feels like a lake compared to Bloomington’s small pond, I occasionally participated in local business consumerism.
I’ve frequented a farmer’s market with my mother on Saturdays, where we discovered pepper jelly, homemade chicken salad and beans sewn into fabric as a makeshift compress.
Every fall, my family has bought pumpkins from Due West United Methodist Church since our move to Georgia in 1999.
My family was delighted to learn of a local brewery, Red Hare Brewing Company, that sold beverages in many of the restaurants we liked to visit.
On my trip back home during Labor Day, I spent my last night in the Marietta Diner with my father and brother, a local business so successful it’s been on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
The point is you can buy from local businesses without a problem even if your town isn’t small or it just feels like the size of a small urban setting.
There are buy-local movements in cities as large as New York City.
The question remains of why we should support local business.
Sure, it sounds great for the planet, like recycling, but do any of us really have the time?
And why would we put forth an effort if we don’t see instant results?
The truth is you just might.
Failing businesses look as great in a town as foreclosures look in a subdivision — it restricts market value.
Why would anyone want to join your community if it’s not successful?
This is especially important for places like Bloomington that provide a quaint, small-town atmosphere for visitors and migrants who are looking to settle down.
Unlike other movements, consumers are able to see the direct results of their patronage.
Instead of believing you’re making a dent in the landfill, you’re standing in the middle of the issue and living with it day in and day out.
For some people, seeing is believing, and buying local is probably the movement for them.
Now, I’m not against corporations and mass production.
Just look at Papa John’s. John Schnatter took over his father’s restaurant in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and started a national food chain from scratch.
He still started off local.
I’m not telling you to storm a Walmart or send death threats to any corporate bigwig who’s thinking about setting up shop in Bloomington.
I think we could use a few corporate additions like Nordstrom, and I’m quite disappointed that Bloomington has yet to invest in an Ulta or a Sephora.
Alas, I’ll just have to resort to buying from these places online or when I’m down south.
The point is, corporations aren’t the enemy, but local businesses are definitely your friend.
So join a movement you can get behind and contribute your commerce to our community.
Because a business is a business, no matter how small.
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