It’s no secret that when you shop at your Co-op, you are shopping at a local store. A store staffed, managed, and governed by local residents, with about 34,000 local people actively invested in keeping this local business rooted in our community. Did you also know that your dollar can actually generate more money in the community when you shop local? It’s true. When you keep your money here, in the community, that money gets spent again by the local community. This is called the local multiplier effect, and it’s why organizations like National Cooperative Grocer (of which your Co-op is a member) have researched our collective multiplier power and determined that for every $1 we spend as shoppers at grocery co-ops, we put $1.60 back into the local economy.
How Money Multiplies When Spent Locally
Spending your money locally is an efficient way to sustain your local economy. According to Time, buying local “enhances the ‘velocity’ of money.” When your money is kept close and paid to your neighbors, and then your neighbors’ neighbors, then “more people have had the benefit of the money and what it has purchased for them.” The idea is that when you keep the money circulating locally, your community can remain more resilient and self-sustaining even when we face economic downturns. The American Independent Business Alliance (or AMBIA), says “going local creates more local wealth and jobs” three ways: by direct impact, when local businesses spend locally to generate inventory, pay utilities, purchase equipment and pay employees; by indirect impact, when that money is spent with other local partner businesses and then recirculated; and by induced impact, when that money spent with other local businesses and used to pay local people and then spent in the local economy. Essentially, the more we spend locally, the more our community can spend money with each other.
How We Spend Your Money Locally
We’ve previously reported that when you spend $20 at your Co-op on local goods, nearly 100% of your money stays in our local community (compared to 12% of that money leaving our community to pay shareholders and corporate executives when you buy local products at a national retailer). From that $20, $12.80 goes directly to thelocal producer, $5 pays your local Co-op employees’ wages and benefits, $0.40 provides for local charitable giving, local sponsorships, local promotions and the Access Discount Program, and $1.80 pays for occupancy and operational costs. Nationally, grocery co-ops create 40% more jobs per square foot, donate 69% more income and purchase 58% more locally than stores using the traditional corporate shareholder model. When you shop your Co-op, you make a major local economic difference.
Support Local Entrepreneur, Shop the Retail Ready Lab
Without a doubt, your Co-op is more likely to purchase and provide goods from a local producer when we can, and because we are accustomed to working within the small business supply chain, we are primed to support our local entrepreneurs. The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), a member organization that supports microbusiness (which is typically how entrepreneurs are defined, since many have less than five employees), microbusinesses “forge paths to job stability and self-sufficiency,” and “if one in three Main Street microbusinesses hired a single employee, the United States would be at full employment.” When you shop local, and select products from our small and newer producers, you are not only multiplying the impact of your dollar, and providing the ability for your Co-op to sustain jobs, you are also potentially creating new jobs by supporting our region’s many local entrepreneurs. Some of these entrepreneurs, according to AEO, may “lack the capital to launch larger-scale enterprises, such as people of color and women, especially women heads of household. Strategies to promote a flourishing microbusiness sector can provide essential avenues to success for such groups. In this way, microbusinesses can not only have a beneficial impact on our economy, but can increase inclusiveness and equality in that economy too.”
That is why, when you are shopping local at your Co-op, we strongly suggest you check out the new Retail Ready Lab, which offers small local vendors a chance to test out selling their products in our stores for a limited time. Then, we and those vendors review your feedback together and learn what needs to happen in order to successfully launch their products in the retail setting. As mentioned in the Retail Ready Lab section of this month’s Reader, this month we feature Cress Spring Body Care from Blue Mounds, and Nami Chips from Viroqua (both products produced by women). You can sample and also buy their products at the Retail Ready Lab displays in all three of our stores. Then, write your feedback on the paper provided in stores, or send us your feedback online at willystreet.coop/retail-ready-lab. We are so excited to offer this program to the many local entrepreneurs providing goods for you in our area, and we look forward to seeing how our program supports their economic growth.
Thank You For Multiplying Your Local Impact!
Whether it’s by shopping your Co-op, choosing local products, participating in the Retail Ready Lab, giving to Community Shares of Wisconsin through Community CHIP or supporting the Double Dollars Fund through cash donations and reusing bags (which helps those using FoodShare/QUEST also contribute to the local economy and multiply their effect at both the Co-op and local farmers’ markets), you are keeping your cash local and circulating local. That makes each and every dollar of yours a powerful contributor to your community. We are proud to celebrate Eat Local Month with you again this September, and we appreciate that you help our local producers, local employees, local entrepreneurs and your many neighbors thrive.