Big box and chain stores may seem more convenient and less expensive than shopping at independent retailers—but at what cost? That question is at the core of Independent Retailer Month, an annual shop-local event throughout July designed to support and celebrate the businesses that play critical roles in our economy—yet are often overlooked. Driving past a locally owned hardware store to buy tools at a nearby chain store, for example, might get you a lower price on your purchase—but less of your money will stay local.

How Independent Retailer Month got its start

The beginnings of Independent Retailer Month can be traced to two individuals. In 2003, Tom Shay of Profits Plus created National Independent Retailer Week. In 2009, social entrepreneur Kerry Bannigan created Independent Retail Week. In 2011, they began collaborating to create a month-long recognition for independent retailers. The first Independent Retailer Month was launched in the U.S. in July 2011, and has since expanded to the United Kingdom.

What are the benefits of shopping at independent retailers?

There are benefits to shopping at independent retailers throughout the year, but making July Independent Retailer Month provides a more concentrated time frame to focus on the independent retailers who  contribute to your local economy and help create more sustainable communities. A website devoted to Independent Retailer Month cites statistics pulled from multiple studies to highlight the benefits that come from shopping at independent retailers. This information—and the sources—include:
ƒ A study in New Orleans found that if residents and visitors were to shift 10 percent of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would generate an additional $235 million a year in local economic activity, creating many new opportunities and jobs.
ƒ “A dollar spent at an independent retailer is usually spent six to fifteen times in the community before heading out of town. Just $1 can create $5 to $14 of value in the immediate area.” South Dakota Rural Enterprise, Inc.
ƒ “Each $100 spent at local independents generated $45 of secondary local spending, compared to $14 for a big-box chain.” The Institute for Local Self Reliance
ƒ “Local retailers reinvest 130 percent more of their revenues than chain retailers and 676 percent more of their revenues than Amazon.” 2018 Home Sweet Home: Locals vs. Amazon study
ƒ “ Only six cents of a dollar spent at a big box retailer stays in the area.” Indiana Main Street Program
ƒ “Local business generates 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big box retailers.” Andersonville Study of Retail Economics

Help spread the word

The website also includes ideas and resources for businesses and community organizations that want to show their support Independent Retailer Month. By spreading the word, you can help strengthen your local independent businesses, your community—and your local economy
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