It’s a Fact: Shopping at Independent Home Improvement Retailers Builds Stronger Communities

This information is adapted from an article by Kate Klein, kklein@nrha.org and Sara Logel slogel@nrha.org. Find the full article here, or download a PDF.

Local stores were once the go-to place to shop for most of what we needed, but the rise of mass merchants and rapid technological changes have transformed retailing and communities.

People everywhere are realizing, though, that spending money at a big-box store sends cash out of state, and away from our community. “Shop Local” movements have helped, and now we have research that small businesses benefit their communities more than the mass merchants. Locally owned businesses are not only selling high-quality products, but are also recirculating big money back into the local economy.

A series of studies starting in 2002 showed clearly that shopping at independent retail stores circulates more money back into the local economy than if the same amount is spent at a national chain.

A new study, dubbed the “Home Sweet Home Study”, looked specifically at the impact that shopping at a local home improvement store has on a community versus shopping at a big-box.

Want a fun way to see the impact? Check out these videos: “Small Business. Big Impact.” and “Why Support Independent Business?”.

The Short Version

The Home Sweet Home Study considered “local economic impact” in these categories:

  • Labor: A larger share of operating costs for local stores goes to labor (local employees).
  • Profits: A larger portion of our profits stay in the community.
  • Procurement: Local businesses support local services like accounting and legal services.
  • Charitable Giving: Hometown businesses give back generously to local causes in the community. (National chains are more likely to donate to national charities or groups located near their headquarters, not near their stores.)

The Results Are In

So shopping at a local home improvement store keeps more money in the local economy. But how much? Check it out:

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Roughly two times as much money is kept in the community when products are purchased at a local retailer!

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What It Means

Think of it this way: If you buy home improvement products from a local retailer, twice as much money goes toward local parks, Little League teams, bike paths, and so many other great community benefits.

So next time you have a choice, choose local. You’ll be helping to strengthen our community for everyone!