Support local businesses

By By Alex Bean

By Alex Bean

An evening out on the town in Salt Lake City can be a good time. Take a stroll through The Gateway, do a bit of window shopping and maybe grab a bite to eat at McGrath’s Fish House.

Sounds pretty good, except the entire experience can be recreated anywhere across the country. Malls everywhere in America have the same bland stores and same boring restaurants. Instead of patronizing the same stores you can find in California and New York, Utahns should support local businesses.

A study conducted by Civic Economics in May 2007 showed that local businesses have a greater impact on local economies. For every $100 spent in a locally owned store, $68 in local economic activity is generated. Contrast that with the $100 spent at a chain store, which only produced $43 in local economic activity. National chains are often managed from afar, with headquarters located out of state. This means that a lot of money spent at chains is sent elsewhere, providing no benefit at all to Utahns.

Local businesses and chains both offer jobs to the community. However, anyone that’s worked for a big corporation knows how impersonal it can be. You’re just another cog in the machine, easily replaced. Local businesses, in my experience at least, tend to be more personal. You’re not a faceless worker bee, but a valued employee. When you work for a local business, you know you’re directly helping your community instead of providing benefit to the corporate offices on the East Coast.

More than contributing to the local economy, shopping locally is about community. The 20th century saw the rise of globalization and the loss of local identity. Going out of state for vacation is a great time, but there’s something depressing about going out to eat at the same restaurants we have here in Utah. By supporting locally owned businesses, we’re supporting our sense of community. The owners of these restaurants and shops are our neighbors.

Furthermore, the food at local restaurants is just plain better. A plate of pasta from Olive Garden is going to be the same on the East Coast as it is on the West. On the other hand, order a plate of Pad Thai from a local Thai restaurant, and it will definitely be different from a local restaurant elsewhere. When a business is stretched across the country and producing large amounts of exactly the same dish, it’s bound to cut corners. A local restaurant, though, is less focused on distributing food to all the franchises and more focused on creating a quality product.

We can cultivate a unique community here in Utah, something distinct from the rest of the country. Sure, you’ll always find the same chain stores everywhere you go in America, but we should do our best to support local businesses and make Utah Utah.

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