You’ve heard it before: “I saw this, and it just made me think of you!” Maybe you thought, Am I really the kind of person that makes people think of oversized fuchsia slippers? Don’t blame yourself. You’re yet another victim of one-size-fits-all marketing, but move over, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s a new player this season: Plaid Friday.
It all started in Oakland, California in 2009 when gallery owner, Kerri Johnson, grew tired of the seasonal shopping focus repeatedly being on the big box stores. Deciding it was time for local business owners to “weave together” and take back holiday shopping, Johnson created the local business event that is sweeping the nation: Plaid Friday. Now, on Plaid Friday, local businesses across the United States are offering specials to customers who shop while wearing plaid as a gesture of solidarity with both these local businesses and their communities. Not only are you practically guaranteed to choose more unique gifts, but shopping Plaid on Friday offers a host of other benefits, as well.
Shopping local has a greater positive impact on your local economy. Local businesses pay local taxes. They hire local people. They also tend to source their goods locally. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s 2016 article, Amazon’s Stranglehold, “Compared to Amazon, independent retailers create 2x as many jobs for the same amount of revenue.” Similarly, according to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, local business generates 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail. According to another statistic, money spent at a local business generates 2.5x more wealth for the local economy compared to money spent at a chain-owned business. Local money spent locally stays and grows local communities; it’s that simple. If every family in the United States spent an extra $10 a month at a locally owned, independent business instead of at a national chain, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy.
Shopping local puts you in touch with with local expertise. According to the Codex Group in its article, “Why Online Book Discovery is Broken (and How to Fix It),” one learns that “at a local store, you are as much as 3x more likely to discover something new.” Independent, local retailers have a great deal more freedom to choose which products they sell, and they typically choose products with which they have experience and which they trust. Different products at each local retailer mean a greater diversity of products, and more options tends to increase the chances that consumers will be able to find a more exact fit for their needs and wants. Additionally, local businesses are often able to offer more individualized attention and assistance to their customers, making certain they find the best possible options to suit their needs.
Shopping local is better for the environment. Shopping local helps reduce the amount of international shipping and transport involved in commerce. Therefore, it also reduces processing, packaging and transportation waste, leading to less pollution because of this shipping and transport. Local businesses tend to use more locally-produced products and local resources. These local, independent businesses are also much more likely to reuse materials, conserving both resources and energy.
Shopping local builds community involvement and decreases income inequality. When you are out shopping in your community, you have greater chances of meeting and talking with your fellow community members. You are more likely to become involved in with your fellow community members and, therefore, in your community, as well. Meanwhile, your locally spent dollars are making the difference between success and failure for several local businesses. Such local businesses have long been part of the pathway to middle class living for many Americans. As more of your fellow community members are able to successfully stay in business and move towards a middle class income, your community is successfully shortening the gap between the well off in your community and those who are struggling to make ends meet.
Start the plaid tide in your community this shopping season. Look for your local Genesee Valley Penny Saver’s Directory of Participating Merchants for up-to-date, insider information on your community’s Plaid Friday specials. Shop fun; shop smart; shop local!