It’s an ugly sight - and one way or another, where you shop affects the face of your neighborhood. Go to any shopping center dominated by Target, Office Depot, Wal Mart, Circuit City, Marshall’s, Macy’s, and the like - and you could be at any shopping center in the country. They all look the same - huge and generic. Shoppers are buying more than merchandise at these stores; they’re buying the ugly, unsustainable development that goes along with it.
On the other hand, small local shops add value to your community in multiple ways. When you spend at local shops, your dollars also support a diverse, appealing marketplace which contributes to long-term quality-of-life.
Local shops lend beauty and character to the neighborhood. They benefit local people - shop owners, artisans, and workers who live close by. Local shops need smaller spaces - spaces which are more sustainable and human-scaled.
The life cycle of big box chain stores can be as little as 10 or 12 years, leaving huge blighted, hard-to-fill spaces in the landscape; but infrastructure designed for small shops remains attractive over time, turning over easily to meet the changing needs of retail business.
I know from having been a small business owner, that every single dollar counts, and every single customer is important. It’s tough to survive as a small business. Competition is fierce, and the big companies outspend the little guys many times over. But small businesses really make a difference, and deserve your support.
At a time when individual voices are easily drowned out by the big money calling the shots in our communities, we can at least shop where it counts - during the holiday season, and every day. We can still decide where to spend our money. We can still buy local.