Doing the math on why buying in Kitsap matters
18 Nov 2022
Economy, Shop.Eat.Spend.Kitsap, Buy Local, Executive Director Monthly Column
"Buy Close' is a thread weaving our business community together
Do you know your neighbor’s name?
Local business owners not only know their neighbors’ names, they also know their regular customers’ names, the names of their employees, their vendors, partners - on top of the names of those close to them. For local business owners, names, faces, and relationships are interwoven with everyday life. Almost anyone they cross paths with is like a neighbor. But local businesses are not woven into the community and economic development in Kitsap, they are the fabric.
Downtown and small businesses are vital to economic growth. Economically, when shutdowns occurred due to the pandemic, it was our community’s small and microbusinesses that were most impacted. It took an entire community to help these businesses keep their doors open. Programs such as the Poulsbo Strong and Bremerton Strong campaigns offered merchandise with local insignia and donated proceeds to local businesses, providing both awareness and funds. Fast-thinking, community outreach, and clear guidance from our local financial institutions like Kitsap Credit Union provided peace of mind for local business owners who were genuinely lost, needing expert assistance in filling out complicated Payroll Protection Program ("PPP") loan paperwork.
That was yesterday. Let’s look at how the fabric threads through our neighborhoods today.
Jane goes to Ballast Books in Bremerton and buys gifts for a half-dozen family members and friends. They then stop at Yoko Yoko Ramen to treat themselves to lunch and celebrate checking off a big chunk of their holiday shopping list - ending their productive day at Thrive Yoga in Manette. Jane then tells their friends about all of the fun finds from the book shop, the tasty appetizers, and the yoga class they took. Some of those friends will buy something for themselves at the book shop, some of them will go on a date night at the ramen spot, and others will try a class with Jane at the local yoga studio.
This economic threading perpetuates, creating a lovely infinity scarf thanks to the fabric that is made up of our local businesses.
Now that we have done some knitting, let’s do some math. Imagine Jane spent $100 at the bookstore. On average, $48 of that $100 will go back into the local economy - almost half! Now if Ballast Books has at least 25 $100 transactions per day, that is another $1200 that will go back into the local economy and circulate, supporting payroll and operations at other local businesses, as well as other community initiatives. Now multiply that by 260, the average working days in a year. That means a lot of cheddar goes back into the Kitsap community from just one small local business - $312,000! A lot of life’s opportunities are now powered because Jane and our community chose to spend locally.
There may be a thread hanging for most customers, which is the concern of a potential recession and the rising prices due to inflation. For customers it may seem unsustainable to support a local business because it can be cheaper to purchase a new pair of shoes online. To be fair and firm, this is where we put our money where our mouth is. We are not required to purchase furniture from a local shop but we will definitely find something more unique if we do. We are not required to buy a gift from that one cute small shop in downtown but it is way more enjoyable and memorable to shop there than it is a packed chain retailer. We are not required to dine at a one-of-kind local restaurant but you sure will want to take your visitors to that one place that is very Pacific Northwest, very Kitsap.
A hanging thread will always exist in any community but we need not fray it. Shop local for experience, one-of-a-kind, or because you care a lot about your neighbor and neighborhood. Save money where you can, support small and local where you can. Perfection is not expected: We all need to shop online, in the city, and in stores big and small, of course.
That said, remember this: When we help a small business, we help them make a living, pay their bills, employ others, and give them the opportunity to invest further in our community. When small businesses thrive, it means more jobs in our community—and when small businesses are struggling, it means fewer jobs. It also means less money flowing into our local economy; less money as taxpayers to invest in our schools, fix potholes, and sustain other vital programs and initiatives to support a thriving community.
As we go through the list of names for holiday shopping or Christmas card mailing, let us learn and remember the names of local businesses and the people behind them - this act can help us think of them more as friendly neighbors. And please remember as the year closes to make a special effort to spend locally, support your neighbors - it’s part of what will help Kitsap County continue to be a great place to live and work.
Aljolynn Sperber (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Marketing Contractor for the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance and spearheads the Buy Close by Kitsap shop local campaign. Visit buykitsap.org to learn more about how you can support local businesses this season.