Will You #ShopSmall?
Elev8 Hawaii has always been a BIG ADVOCATE for small, local businesses throughout Hawaii! Each day we search out unique ideas, creative services and innovative products to showcase for our active small business supporters. Yesterday, I added a small, local business called ELLIE BUNNY JEWELRY. The owner is Ellie Tsusaki and her cute pieces are featured at Ben Franklin's LOCKERS at Mapunapuna. Later in the evening she reached out to me regarding a paper she wrote for a class in school, entitled #SHOPSMALL: The greatest hipster movement of all time! Here it is for your reading enjoyment! Mahalo ELLIE TSUSAKI.
"Shop small is perhaps the greatest hipster movement of all. Many claim small businesses will save the United States economy and bring jobs back from overseas. But how can they? Small businesses are, well, small. Although these independent businesses have less than 500 employees each, they make a huge impact. According to an article by Forbes Contributor Rebecca O. Bagley, “there are between 25 million and 27 million small businesses in the U.S.” Despite seeming more expensive, shopping with small, local businesses is crucial. Shopping with these businesses stimulates the economy, improves the value of a community, and supports the American dream.
By shopping with small and local businesses, the economy grows. But because the threat of e-commerce and big-box shops like Wal-Mart and Target, small businesses are being run out of their own towns. According to an article by the Huffington Post, in 2013, Wal-Mart had announced plans to open six stores in the DC area. Many had questioned WHY six were needed. One, maybe, but six would mean a Wal-Mart for every 10 square miles (Gardinier)! A 2007 U.C. Berkeley study discovered that Wal-Mart store openings replace jobs with better wages and benefits with those that pay less which leads to depressed wages for workers in competing businesses (Dube et al. 6).
On the contrary, small businesses provides higher paying jobs with better benefits. This is how the local multiplier effect begins. From each dollar spent at a local independent merchant, such as your mom-and-pop shops, that dollar recirculates in the local economy two to three and a half times compared to a chain-owned business (Milchen). What community wouldn’t like more money? With more money staying local, communities can focus on improving schools, public facilities and services, and much more.
Not only will shopping small stimulate the local economy, but also shopping local improves the value of the community. Just like the local multiplier effect, Civic Economics has observed the amount of money staying in the community through taxes. For every $100 spent at a local business, $68 will stay within the community, compared to $43 at a franchise or none from online shops. This is partially due to the fact that local business stays local. Small businesses are owned by people who live in that community and employs members of that same community. This raises property values and the value of the area as a whole (Abrams). For example, Hawaii became world famous through its white, sandy beaches and year-round summer-y weather. However, it’s not just the scenery that attracts tourists. Many travel to Haleiwa and wait in line for hours for Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. Similarly, Giordano's Pizza adds to the allure of Chicago, Illinois. These small businesses turns a city into a destination.
What better way to support fellow Americans and their “American Dream” than to shop small? America was built on the principles of an open market and freedom. The economy relies on small businesses to keep it up and running. In fact, most of today’s most successful people are entrepreneurs. America’s greatest companies were built on the entrepreneurial drive. Corporations like Ford and Apple pride themselves on their humble beginnings. Self-made immigrant Elon Musk is a prime example of such.
Furthermore, fifty-seven percent of voters think that small businesses create more jobs and generate more economic growth than both big businesses and the government (Shane). This may be due to the trust that is built between local business owners and their customers which stimulates spending. Also, according to Forbes Magazine, those roughly 25 million small businesses in the U.S. account for nearly 80 percent of all U.S. jobs. Talk about economic stimulus package!
Shopping small may sound great and all, but is it more expensive? Wal-Mart and Amazon claim to have the best deals and the lowest prices. At face value, this may be true. The BOGO free and super sale deals are irresistibly alluring. However, consumer wallets are still suffering. This is due to the hidden costs that come from higher taxes due to low wages at these chain supermarkets which stem from government-given subsidies.
According to Good Jobs First, a national policy resource center which promotes economic development and smart growth for working families, many Wal-Mart employees and their families qualify and rely on safety-net help provided by the government such as Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program, Earned Income Tax Credits, Section 8 housing assistance, low income energy assistance, and free or discounted school lunches (“Harms”). This means that while those prices are seemingly low, they are indeed too good to be true. Based on findings from the American Independent Business Association, a whopping eighty-four percent of Wal-Mart’s sales shadily shifted dollars away from existing local retailers, all while promising state officials that their business is stimulating growth.
This facade is fading. Nearly every major department store, including Macy’s, Wal-Mart, and Sears, have closed hundreds of stores within the past couple years. Some have even fallen off the map, such as Sports Authority and K-Mart. All across America, over-built retail space litters the landscape. Dead malls and shells of abandoned supermarkets stand where a bustling main street once bustled with life. Consumers must stop falling for illusionary low prices and band together for our country to grow and prosper once more.
To make “America Great Again”, small shops must prevail. The revamped indie boutique is ready to step up and save our country’s economy. Shopping with local and small businesses will stimulates the economy, improves the value of a community, and supports the “American Dream”. Instead of shopping for the lowest cost, make a point to shop small to improve the local scene. So skip the chain food restaurants and Yelp search a local eatery. Try that hole-in-the-
wall cafe that just opened up. Do anything and everything, for the sake of the American dream."
(Photos courtesy of Elev8 Hawaii)
Be sure to check out her ETSY site at:
or visit the Ben Franklin Crafts Store in Mapunapuna
Abrams, Rhonda. "Strategies: 10 reasons to fall in love with shopping local."
USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 23 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
Bagley, Rebecca O. "Small Businesses = Big Impact." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 15 May 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
Dube et al. "A Downward Push: The Impact Of Wal-Mart Stores On Retail Wages And Benefits." UC Berkeley Center For Labor Research And Education(2007): 1-10. Web. 21 Feb 2017
Gardinier, Kurt A. "Washington's Battle for a Living Wage (And Does DC Really Need Six Wal-Marts?)." The Huffington Post. N.p., 21 July 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
"Harms of Big Box Retail." Good Jobs First. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
Milchen, Jeff. "The Benefits of Shopping and Buying Locally." AMIBA. AMIBA, 17 Oct. 2016. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.
Shane, Scott. "Why Americans Love Small Business." Entrepreneur. N.p., 22 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.