While the internet has opened up the world at the touch of a keystroke, its bazaar of shopping opportunities has had a very personal effect on local economies.
So as we approach the biggest shopping (and eating) season of the year, it's time for a reminder about all the good our local businesses do in our communities and the dollars-and-cents impact they have on our schools, local governments and neighbors.
That includes the big-box stores. In fact, they can do as much for a local economy as a locally-owned business. The big-box stores employ lots of people, who then spend their paychecks and pay taxes; the stores' owners pay property and sales taxes; and many employ local tradespeople for all sorts of plumbing, electrical, roofing and flooring work.
Locally-owned businesses — the ones honored on Small Business Saturday — also play a big role in the local economy. The owners tend to spend their money in the city that supports them; they use the services of other local businesses; they provide friendly customer service and often are willing to search near and far to fulfill special orders. They offer the special items unavailable in the big-box stores, and the big-box stores offer general items that may be too bulky for the small stores to offer.
They work — if not hand in hand, at least side by-side — to support the local economy, pay taxes that support schools, and offer fundraising help for Scout troops, nonprofit agencies and other community organizations.
Not so with internet vendors, who offer the ability for you to shop in your pajamas, but can't provide the smile that goes with the sale, and may not provide Illinois with its fair share of sales taxes.
That's what's behind both the Shop Local and Small Business Saturday campaigns, and we urge support of both as you look for items and decorations for your holiday family gatherings and parties, and as you shop for holiday gifts.
Shop Local is something we can, and should do, every day of the year. Small Business Saturday, created in 2012 by American Express, sets aside the day after Black Friday to celebrate all the local small businesses that make the economy hum.
In 2014, shoppers spent $14.3 billion at small independent businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to Consumer Insights Survey. In 2015, the survey said, 95 million people shopped at a small business on that day.
According to statistics from the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, for every $10 million spent at local brick-and-mortar businesses, 57 jobs are created. For every $100 spent locally, about $48 goes back into the local economy.
In America, we can buy our goods and services from whatever business we choose. But when we have a choice, we should patronize the businesses that help our families, friends and neighbors.