By Charlie Parke
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org
When you spend your money do you shop local? Studies have shown that by shopping with local business, more money goes into the local economy. This money can mean increases to local sales tax and income tax funds, more employment and possibly even lower crime. Can you save the world by shopping locally? Maybe not, but some argue it will save your city.
Small businesses generated 65% of jobs over the last 17 years. These employees become customers paying sale and income taxes that pay for police, fire, roads and schools. When these customers shop and bank locally, the local economy gets even stronger. Decreased unemployment, less vacant store fronts and better maintained cities increase the quality of life. Many local businesses can be found on the Local First Arizona website and display a Local First logo.
Local businesses are strong contributors to local culture and community. An easy example can be found around Roosevelt Row which includes restaurants, places for music and a drink, a bookstore, and art shows, such as Fair Trade Café, Jobot, Aside of Heart, Angel Trumpet’s Ale House, Lost Leaf, Lawn Gnome Publishing, Filmbar, the Firehouse Gallery and Bodega 420. This neighborhood is known by its independent businesses as much as their staff and regulars. Neighborhoods like this are special places and this one is a popular stop not just for First Friday but for local bands and community groups. Streets like this even get their own facebook pages like the page for 5th Street, for the area between Roosevelt and Garfield.
Local Businesses are often involved in the Arizona economy on many levels. JRC of Grand Ave neighborhood business, the Trunk Space, says they bank local with Arizona Federal Savings and Loan. Banking local usually means the money will be lent to local businesses and homeowners, a circle that keeps the Arizona economy growing. When possible they also buy local from companies like Phoenix’s Xanadu Coffee and have music equipment serviced by a locally owned and operated company, Field Services. They also feature art by local artists, CDs by local bands and about 75 local music acts appear there each month, often just starting their careers. The Trunk Space has featured benefits for local groups such as Metro Arts High School, Halo Animal Rescue, Andre House (homeless family services), the local branch of Ear Candy (which donates musical instruments to students), Arizona School for the Arts, some fundraisers that help local bands get funds to go on tour, and among many others. JRC noted the eclectic nature of the neighborhood of Grand Avenue near Roosevelt Street with Bikini Cocktail Lounge, Bragg’s Factory Diner, Jackalope Trading Post and other local businesses.
Right now, it is in a very transitional phase. We aren’t the “hip strip” that Roosevelt & 5th Street are, but the businesses and residents in our area feel like die-hard Phoenicians; People who want to be part of the community they are in, and help it grow without changing the fundamental mixed-culture aspect of it. We’re everything from boxers to mechanics, to cup-cake bakers to greasy spoon lunch counters. We’re old and new, we’re entrenched in the past and always pushing to tomorrow. We don’t think Phoenix needs to be “fixed” we just want there to be more of it, BIGGER.” ~ JRC
Local businesses are a key part of neighborhoods’ identities. Local First Arizona partners with local businesses during the week of July 4th to help customers get to know local businesses. They offer a golden ticket discount with 20% off to customers that print out a ticket and bring it in. The offer runs June 30 through July 7, 2013 in cities across Arizona and helps establish relationships that works to bring customers to businesses they might not be familiar with. If customers find local businesses and like them, both gain along with the local economy.
Accompanying the Golden Ticket in Tucson is a showing at local theatre, the Loft, of “Growth Busters”. This documentary highlights the single-mindedness of growth at any cost of the large corporate model. Filmmaker, Dave Gardner, believes this model is unsustainable as it destroys local economies and small businesses, turning us all into global employees.