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When you shop at locally owned independent businesses, more money is kept in the community because local businesses often purchase from other local businesses and service providers. Also, each dollar you spend at independent businesses returns 3 times more money to your local econmoy than one spent at a chain (almost 50 times more than buying from an online mega-retailer) -- a benefit we all can bank on.


Reader surveys by the Consumers Union repeatedly show independent businesses beating their chain competitors in overall customer satisfaction (and often save you money).


Local business owners know you, and you know them. You're their friends and neighbors, and locally owned businesses have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. They're passionate about what they do. Why not take advantage of it?


Locally owned businesses can make more local purcahses requiring less transportation, and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to the sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.


Not only do independent businesses employ more people directly per dollar of revenue, they also are the customers of local printers, accountants, wholesalers, farms, attorneys, etc., expanding opportunities for local entrepreneurs.


More efficient land use and more central locations mean local businesses put less demand on our roads, sewers, and safety services. They also generate more tax revenue per sales dollar. The bottom line: a greater percentage of local independent businesses keeps your taxes lower.

Support for Small Businesses Is at an All-Time High. Let’s Keep it That Way.

Long hailed by elected officials as "the backbone of the American economy," small businesses are receiving renewed attention in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This support will help entrepreneurs and business owners across the country keep the lights on and the checks flowing to their employees. But small businesses deserved Washington’s attention long before the outbreak began.

Every election season, it seems that small businesses become a popular sound bite. Candidates from both sides of the aisle and every level of government preach their resounding support for the independent and family businesses that account for a majority of the national economy. In fact, it often seems like support for small businesses is the only issue candidates actually agree on.

All too often, that bipartisan support fades away once the election ends. In recent years, small businesses have faced rising commercial rents, monopolistic consolidation among competitors and outdated regulations—issues that require policymakers at every level of government to take action. Yet change has occurred slowly, if at all.

Then came the coronavirus outbreak. Within days of the outbreak surging in the United States, small businesses across the country were under strict orders to close their doors or limit their operations. Understanding the devastating impact these measures would have on the nation’s small businesses, lawmakers took swift action. Congress quickly passed the CARES Act to provide nearly $350 billion in relief and is poised to allocate more funding as needed. Meanwhile, the Small Business Administration began making Economic Injury Disaster Loans available for small businesses in need of advances on funding. This relief allows small businesses to continue making payroll and to offset other COVID-related losses.

"Would you believe the day would come when politicians actually begin to act on their rhetoric to support small businesses?" says Jim Wilhite, owner of Love TV Sales & Service in St. Louis, Missouri. "It’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic to realize actions from politicians to demonstrate any support for them."

This support for small businesses is telling. Small and local businesses employ a majority of American workers. By funding small businesses, Congress recognized the important role they play in the lives of everyday Americans. When small businesses do better, American workers do better.

Eventually, the country will overcome the coronavirus pandemic. But the importance of small businesses won’t change. While the pandemic rages on, lawmakers must do their part to ensure that small businesses can survive the downturn. That way, American workers will have jobs to return to when the stay-at-home orders lift.

Just as important, lawmakers must continue their support of small businesses once the pandemic subsides. The challenges that existed before the outbreak won’t disappear without prolonged attention. Even after the pandemic, small business owners need action—not just rhetoric—from their elected officials.

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught lawmakers anything about the national economy, it’s the essential role that small businesses play in Americans’ everyday lives. As employers, as job creators and as engines of local economic activity, small businesses will play a crucial role in the recovery that lies ahead. Let’s not forget that role once the recovery turns to reflection.

The Misconception about Small Businesses that Costs Consumers.

Everyone wants a good deal, but many consumers are looking in the wrong place. Big-box stores and online retailers attract customers with flash sales and low prices, and small businesses often get overlooked. Even in the Amazon economy, though, small businesses offer a better value.

"Our biggest competitor is not a store but a perception," says Jim Wilhite, owner and general manager of Love TV Sales & Service. Wilhite’s St. Louis-area small business will soon celebrate its 70th anniversary, but that success has come with its fair share of challenges. Namely, customers don’t think of his store as a viable, affordable option, Wilhite says.

"Our prices are consistently in line with the market and have been for years," Wilhite says. "But the common misconception is that a small store like ours cannot compete because it doesn’t have the same buying power as a big-box store."

Like many independent retailers, Love TV Sales & Service belongs to a buying group that gives it a boost in buying power. These groups, including IWS sponsors Nationwide Marketing Group and Do it Best Corp., bring independents together to pool their resources and leverage their numbers into greater buying power. As a result, small businesses can get better prices on necessities like inventory and advertising.

But price isn’t the only aspect of value — and small businesses know that the customer cares as much about the experience as the price. Caring for the customer by helping them enjoy their purchase long after the sale adds a value that you can’t easily put a price on.

"Our founder had some old sayings and clichés that were wise," says Wilhite. "One of them is, ‘Quality is a bargain at any price.’ This sums up our philosophy of what products we choose to sell. Quality first and everything else, including price, second."

Expert staff, superior products and forgiving return policies are just some of the ways that independent retailers outdo their competition. At Love TV Sales & Service, for instance, every buyer gets a lifetime of free tech support on their products. In other words, there’s no need to pay for a support plan on top of a new piece of equipment. The store also maintains a "no receipt, no problem" return policy, relying on its thorough records that go back more than 25 years to look up past purchases.

From tech support to customer service, the benefits of small businesses are inherent in their business model. By staying small, these businesses can do more for their customers.

"We like the single-store concept," says Wilhite. "We like having the control we have over our products. We are able to turn on a dime and we’re very adaptive to market conditions."

While big-box stores and online retailers cling to price, independent retailers are finding more and more ways to increase buying power and add other forms of value to each transaction. For those retailers, it’s all about promoting the added value. For consumers, it’s time to look beyond the big-box model.