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Buy American and shop locally

Buy American and shop locally

Not long ago, the United States dominated the manufacturing sector. Unfortunately, over the years, a large portion of manufacturing migrated overseas for a variety of reasons, cheaper labor being one of them. Retailers, although many would like to offer only American-made products, may not be able to fully stock their shelves with all of the items that customers may want to find. Consumer expectations are heavily influenced by large companies such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot, which source a huge percentage of their selections from China.

WHY BUY AMERICAN?

When jobs leave the United States, American leadership in technology leaves with them. Each manufacturing job in the United States creates between five and eight “support” jobs, meaning those jobs needed to make the product: clerical, accounting, suppliers, transportation, and so forth. Just as shopping with locally owned businesses is important to keep dollars in the community, buying American-made products keeps our dollars in, and reinvests in, the United States. While we may never again be the dominant force in manufacturing, or at least not for a long time, there are still many great products made here.

American-made products have a smaller environmental footprint because they have a shorter distance to travel. Products manufactured here are also required to comply with stricter environmental regulations than in many other countries. More presence in the manufacturing sector helps stimulate our economy, creates more jobs for Americans, and helps raise the GDP.

WHY SHOP LOCALLY?

Buying American-made products goes hand in hand with shopping locally. San Francisco is fortunate to have a vibrant community of locally owned retailers. Every category of big-box stores has an independent counterpart specializing in books, fashion, hardware, shoes, and more. Besides giving our neighborhoods character, shopping at your local businesses also helps support your community. We are extremely lucky to have so many shopping districts, each with their own uniqueness and flair.

Keep dollars in the community: Spending your money at a local business reinvests that money back into your community. A study by the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchant Alliance (SFLOMA) shows that for every $100 you spend at a locally owned business, $68 will stay in the community. Spend that same $100 at a chain store with their corporate office out of state, and only $43 stays in the community.

Embrace what makes us unique: A chain store in San Francisco is the same store in Dallas or Denver. Independent retailers are unique in their product offerings and don’t follow a cookie-cutter approach.

Create local jobs: Local businesses employ local talent — your neighbors and friends. By supporting the local businesses in your neighborhood, you ensure that jobs stay in our community.

Help the environment: Keeping your car parked and walking to your local business district saves gas and lowers your carbon footprint. Just think of the traffic and lines you will avoid!

Nurture the community: Local businesses tend to donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chain stores. Who cares more about your community more than the local residents who live and work right here?

Create more choice: Locally owned businesses listen to their clientele and offer goods and services that their customers want them to stock. You’ll find more of a unique product assortment than in a chain store, whose products are dictated by a corporate office frequently located out of state.

Conserve tax dollars: Shopping at a retailer outside of the city gives your tax dollars to that city. When tax dollars are spent in our community, they stay here to be reinvested back into our community on infrastructure and beautification.

Take advantage of expertise: Independent retailers are most likely experts in whatever service or goods they are providing for you. Local retailers specialize in what they are offering and are more than happy to share that knowledge.

Invest in entrepreneurship: The American economy is founded upon creativity and entrepreneurship. Supporting your local businesses ensures a strong community. An empty storefront is a blight on a business district that no one wants, retailers or residents.

Make your local business district a destination: Everyone in the community benefits by a vibrant business district. How convenient is it if you can walk to do your shopping, pick up your dry cleaning, grab a cup of coffee, and have lunch — all without having to get into your car? And a vibrant shopping district is more likely to attract visitors from outside the community.

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Julia Strzesieski is the marketing coordinator at Cole Hardware and can be reached at [email protected].

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