For every dollar spent at a national corporate chain only 13 cents of that dollar remains in Arizona, but if you take that same dollar and spend it at a local business, a minimum of 45 cents stays in the community.
State budgets all over the country are being battered by the economic recession. The effects can be seen all over Arizona: closed signs, lost jobs, state park closures and the inability of our state government to even produce a balanced budget.
We have watched the news, read the papers, debated with friends, but no clear solution on how to fix the broken market mechanism has presented itself. The national government chose bailouts and “cash for clunkers.”
Monetary relief, however, felt by the everyday student was mild, if felt at all.
There can be a way out of this time of financial hardship, for Arizona. Spending money at local establishments is the best way.
Where millions of dollars in subsidies are given to out-of-state businesses, 75 percent more tax revenue can be created by shopping locally. Some might argue that big business provides jobs, and that may be true, but for every two jobs created by a national chain, three jobs are lost as a result of a local business closing.
The idea of buying everything locally might be a daunting task. Corporations literally created America as we know it. We have become conditioned to our sad culture of malls and fast food. Local businesses are typically regarded as the “hidden gems” of a city.
A non-profit organization called Local First Arizona, has found everything. It’s a group consisting of activists and business owners. Their website will help consumers meet all their needs. Local business owners will provide above average service because they want customers to come back.
Patrons of local coffee shop, Xtreme Bean, (located on the southwest corner of Southern and McClintock) go out of their way for an independent experience.
“I like supporting the community because big corporations like Starbucks and Wal-Mart already get enough money. It’s nice to have diversity. It’s something a little different, you don’t get the same thing over and over again,” said Philosophy major Madeline Witcher.
ASU student Nathalie Antoñios used to be an employee at a corporate coffee chain, but chose to shop local.
“There is a sense of personality in the local stores. It’s just more unique, it’s not a chain, and it’s not like Starbucks. [Starbucks] is not special, because every Starbucks is the same. The taste is better in my opinion, it’s different. In every little local place a white mocha is not the same,” said Antoñios.
“We were here long before Starbucks existed,” said Dennis Miller, co-owner of Gold Bar Espresso (located at Southern and McClintock).
“They opened two Starbucks on this corner, and we closed one of them down. We’ve had some baristas here for eight years,” said Miller. “We support local artists and local musicians. We are here to serve the consumer’s needs, and we produce a superior product.”
Shopping at one of the farmers markets scattered all over the valley is an economically sound and ethical choice. Tempe Farmers Market recently opened (on the corner of Farmer and University).
“We have mostly local products. We specialize in local products, and when you specialize in local products more money goes back to the state versus the corporations,” said Diana Perrone, a Tempe Farmers Market employee.
“On top of supporting the local farmers and purveyors, the produce we get is fresher tastier.. People come back just for our tomatoes all the time, for our bread, just for apples. You can get them at Fry’s, but (produce) is not pulled fresh off the vine there,” said Angie Dutton, coworker of Perrone.
The bigger chains have processed foods. We make everything here, we buy from local merchants, and we spend our money here.
A lot of bigger companies go to headquarters; the money doesn’t stay here,” said Allen Aziz, partial owner and manager of the family-run Sahara Middle Eastern Restaurant.
Sahara, located on the same corner as Gold Bar, has received countless reviews from patrons raving about the fresh savory food and impeccable service.
Want the economy to improve? Support a local culture.
Follow Local First Arizona’s founder Kimber Lanning’s advice and “keep your money where your home is.