Have You Shopped Locally Today?

General | 03.1.2012

I totally get how stinkin’ easy it is to run over to Home Depot or Walmart to grab something you need quickly.  And YES I know that just about every single one of my wonderful K9 Kaos customers carries….dare I say it outloud…. a PetCo card.  Oh yes, I see it hanging from your car keys every time you pick up your dog.  Don’t you see the tear in my eye?  I understand, trust me.  I too have shopped at PetCo.  I am not proud of myself.

There are so many ways to look at this.  The first way I always come to is my childhood.  I grew up in Lawrence MA where we had an amazing downtown area which was on Essex Street.  When I was a kid, that is where we would go to shop for just about everything.  School clothes at Nepso’s and Girl Scout uniforms at Russums.  Lunch at Morins or Cedar Crest and then maybe a spin through Little Town Toggery and hit Al Magoons on the way home.  We would get my back to school supplies at Marlin’s in Methuen… there was no Staples back then of course.  It’s how it was, it was a community, and it was awesome.  I occasionally take the drive down to Essex Street and it is the saddest place on earth to me now.  One of my favorite places is still there on Common Street: The Italian Kitchen.  I am always so happy each and every time I pull up to realize that it is still there, still open and still serving the best crispellis.  How they have survived is beyond me, it will be  a sad day when his promise of retirement becomes a reality.

So fast forward a bit in my reality, I am so guilty of falling into the lure of the big box store and online shopping.  I got a little older, I got a little busier and these super stores starting popping up everywhere.  It was so cool, and they have everything.  I had no idea what this kind of shopping was doing to little downtown’s and communities all across America.

It has been proven time after time and study after study that money spent in an independently owned business raises far more for the community you live in.   Just think for a minute about some the things in our community.  Do you have children playing sports?  Scroll through the list of team sponsors, do you see Home Depot, Wal-Mart or Target listed?  Or how about Dover NH things like… have you attended a concert at Henry Law Park, do you love Apple Harvest Day, or walked under the Christmas lights downtown?  Take a look to see the folks that sponsor those events, you will not see Lowe’s, PetCo or Bed Bath & Beyond on the list.  When you are raising money for a cancer walk, your children’s school events, boosters, PTA fundraisers, girl scout cookie sales… do you feel like you can walk into Staples and ask the manager for a donation?

It’s true that there are many studies and many reports regarding the differences between big box stores and the locally owned business.  I like The 3/50 Project web site because it boils it all down to this one very important statistic:

“For every $100 spent in independently owned stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.”

When I decided to open K9 Kaos, I did it for selfish reasons really.  I wanted to be my own boss, I wanted a relatively stress free life and I wanted to do what I love.  I never once thought about community responsibilities that would come along hand in hand, and I love it. For example, whether they realize it or not, my staff hold me accountable each and every day to run K9 Kaos as best I can; so that they can do the work that they love.  I also feel like I should do what I can for Dover.  Hey look, the highlight of my day is when Dover Baseball sends me the picture of my team.   I can’t tell you how happy that makes me, I feel like I have arrived.  Seriously.

I promise you that the person standing behind the counter at your locally owned business represents so much more than just another place to buy paint, greeting cards, tools, books, dog food or even a burrito for lunch.  Make the extra stop, it will be worth your while. I promise.

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