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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Support our local small business community

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People in Indianapolis happily support their sports heroes with an open heart and an open wallet. They are influenced by their friends, social media and the news to wave flags, toast their heroes, and buy memorabilia. Price is no object during sports playoffs.

But when the season is over, do they support their small, local businesses as well?

This buying pattern gives the sports economy a cyclical boost, but it does not provide a steady income to many other local businesses that depend on foot traffic, local advertising, internet appeal and online sales to stay in business.

When we think about our favorite restaurant, cafe, or shop, we spontaneously name a unique local business. We like dropping in and being greeted warmly by the owners. We enjoy shopping there, and appreciate their accessibility.

Since we spend quality time and money, and enjoy the experience, we have to realize that their survival depends on our support.

How else can we help? We can shop there often. A personal recommendation from us can mean a lot more to someone thinking about where to eat or shop than a written review. We can add recommendations to our friends and email list as well as on social media.

And as African-Americans we certainly have a responsibility to support small Black businessmen and women. That is why the National Urban League was formed to promote diversity and opportunity for the African-American business.

The local stores we love are owned by people who have much of their life savings invested into their businesses. They have a strong interest in the long-term growth of the community and choose to actively participate. They give donations to worthy causes, rent ads in local newspapers, serve on local boards, and may be active in local politics.

Retailers try to please customers to keep them coming back to the store. They will track their regular customers’ sales and comments and find goods and services that appeal to them.

Even though a single local shop may have a smaller selection than a big chain outlet, the buyer will select goods that create more diversity and variety.

A chain store opening in a local community, typically is a clone of the other big box stores. You wander around aisle after aisle without finding anyone to assist you. Since they are independent of local community interaction, the managers need to buy fewer local goods and need to employ fewer service workers. Profits are promptly sent back to corporate headquarters many miles away.

“Stay strong” is the cry of our local officials but many don’t always see the pitfalls of opening a chain store in neighborhoods. They review the promises of jobs and tax revenues, but fail to see the local small business base will be undermined. Huge tax and regulatory breaks are given to big chain stores. Why should these businesses enjoy the perks our community-based businesses do not receive?

It is a real cost to Indianapolis if a business closes its doors. Furthermore, many small businesses use the services of other small businesses. They may hire architects, designers, contractors or builders. They may need accountants, insurance brokers, web builders, IT computer experts, attorneys, and electricians to help build and run their enterprise.

The key is buying local as much as possible. If every family in Indianapolis spent just $10 per month with a locally-owned, independent business instead of a national chain store, over $9 million would be directly returned to the Indianapolis economy. That means better schools, better roads, more support for police, fire and rescue departments and ultimately a stronger central Indiana.

Please do your part and support small businesses.

Dr. Jesse Brown is a wealth management and wealth preservation specialist. He is a best-selling author of the book “Pay Yourself First – A Guide to Financial Success.” For questions or comments about this column, email browncolumnrecorder@aol.com.

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