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Your Dollars Count: Where you Shop Makes a Difference

February 8, 2010

By: Jim Oosterman, Vice President
Melrose Bank

The Value of Supporting Local Business

"Melrose has a long-standing tradition of being self-sufficient, to support residents' housing, education, employment, health, shopping, entertainment, recreation and leisure needs." That statement from the city of Melrose website is more true today than ever. Just walking along Main Street, you can find examples of one-of-a-kind restaurants, stores and businesses that are thriving – and that's a good thing for all of us. Sometimes, though the value of doing business locally goes unrecognized. And while there is also value to be found in shopping those big national chain stores, many people simply aren't aware that their everyday choices really do make a difference in the long run.

Whether it's here in Melrose or in other communities nationwide, there's long-term value in supporting local businesses. They represent the foundation of commerce and economic well-being for us all.

More money stays in community – For every $100 you spend, about $68 stays in the community as opposed to only $48 when shopping with a national chain store, according to a 2008 Civic Economics study*. In turn, money that stays in our community helps local commerce by supporting sustainability on many levels, including jobs and wages for our local residents. It's a well-known fact that most new jobs are provided by locally owned businesses and that segment makes up the largest group of employers, nationally.

Provides greater competition and diversity – Larger chain stores often select products based upon national or regional sales plans, mainly because it's cost effective for them to lump together the needs of many. However, local businesses select products and services based on the needs of their community such as gift shops, hardware stores, bakeries, and more, all located in the downtown area. A decision to do business locally assures that you, the consumer, will have more choices to fulfill your needs over the long term.

Good for the environment – Local stores often buy their merchandise from local suppliers, keeping the amount of gas and carbon energy released into the atmosphere down to a minimum. And for those who are skeptical of global warming, it still can't hurt to think that the simple choice of buying from a local business may help preserve nature on some level.

Supports public projects – Libraries, schools, parks and other public infrastructure is supported on the municipal level. Again, to quote the City of Melrose website, our city is "… proud of its excellent schools, its cultural facilities, including the 92-year old Melrose Symphony Orchestra, Melrose Massachusetts Television, the very active local cable channel, and its Victorian downtown area which is supported by a Chamber of Commerce and dates back to 1900." Why not continue this tradition of supporting local infrastructure!

I am proud to say, I am a life-long resident of Melrose! I am also a life-long supporter and advocator of doing business and shopping locally. There is great value to be found here.

Let's continue to keep our city unique and thriving by supporting local business. If this topic has got you thinking about your own local favorites, just take a moment to appreciate them. Make it a point to stop in and say "hello!" because your support is what sustains them. And if you don't already have local favorites, be sure to take some time to walk around your neighborhood or downtown and take in your surroundings!

If you're interested in learning more about the value of supporting local business in our community, visit the Melrose Chamber of Commerce website. You can also get tips and information from the viral web "Shop Locally" movement on Twitter, "Supporting Main Street in Every Town": . *Visit Civil Economics to view or download an online PDF of the 2008 Civic Economics study.

James Oosterman is the Vice President of Melrose Bank. He can be reached by telephone 781-665-2500, online at or on Facebook at

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