This sign is making the rounds of the internet this year, pointing out that money spent in a small business pretty much stays in the community, in the pockets of local families, instead of being shipped out to some megacorp. There are studies that prove it; a look at Grand Rapids, Michigan found that "when West Michigan consumers choose a locally owned business over a non-local alternative, $73 of every $100 spent stays in the community. By contrast, only $43 of every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business remains in the community."
That's why I have never been crazy about Buy Nothing Day (someone has to buy cheese and coffee from my kids) and I am such a fan of Small Business Saturday. People need stuff and it is coming into holiday shopping season, but where you spend your money matters. As Michael Shuman wrote:
Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs.
Stephanie Meeks of the National Trust for Historic Preservation notes:
When we invest in small businesses, we are investing in Main Streets - the places that give our towns and cities a unique sense of place. By celebrating Small Business Saturday and shopping at independent businesses, everyone can play a part in strengthening our economy and supporting revitalization on our Main Streets.
It's the TreeHugger green thing to do as well, because it is key to building a walkable city. As Alex Steffen notes:
There is a direct relationship between the kinds of places we live, the transportation choices we have, and how much we drive. The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car, but eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go.
If we are going to ever get people out of their cars, we have to ensure that there are alternatives. Small business and Main Streets are the key to walkability and urbanity. And as Peter Calthorpe writes:
Urbanism is, in fact, our single most potent weapon against climate change, rising energy costs, and environmental degradation.
So really, where you shop and how you get there have serious implications. if Small Business Saturday feels too corporate, (It was founded and is supported by American Express) remember this campaign that came out of the Occupy movement: Reoccupy Main Street.