It’s more important than ever that we support local

Written by:
Michele Wildman, SVP Community Development at Michigan Economic Development Corporation

This year has been tough. This is true for every Michigan resident but especially for the owners, employees and patrons of the small businesses that make up the communities in which we live. The undeniable effects of the pandemic and the unexpected shift in consumer habits has forced many small businesses to question whether or not they’ll be able to keep the doors open for years to come.

According to a September 2020 survey of small businesses conducted by the Small Business Association of Michigan, one in five small businesses anticipate significant sales losses with 17 percent indicating they expect sales to be down by more than 50 percent because of the pandemic.

The good news is we can do something to help keep our neighborhood shops thriving during these difficult times – buy local.

Buying local helps keep the doors of your favorite boutique bookstore or community grocery store open. It supports local families and provides your neighbors with jobs. It’s helping ensure your favorite neighborhood eatery is able to serve long after the pandemic is behind us.

According to the Michigan Retailers Association, if only one in 10 out-of-state purchases switched to local stores, Michigan would gain $1.2 billion in increased economic activity, creating 10,600 new jobs.
So, when you’re shopping around for the best gifts for your friends and family this holiday season, I urge you to please consider supporting local Michigan businesses. It’s actually easier than you think to support your community. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

·      Does grandma have everything? Find unique gift items and/or ideas, at local Michigan owned stores. Many times they carry items that can be personalized to create that perfect keepsake.
·      Gift your nieces and nephews an “experience” this year by purchasing gift cards to local museums, ice cream shops or theatres.  
·      Shop online at any one of Michigan’s one-of-a-kind boutique shops or art galleries from the comfort of your living room.
·      If you’re like me and tired of cooking, order carryout from your favorite local restaurant, and while you’re there buy a gift card for Uncle Bill.

Shopping local also gives you an opportunity to explore Michigan’s vibrant downtowns while safely enjoying the winter wonderland we’ve come to expect in our great state.

There are a few places near my hometown on my shopping list this year. I will be visiting the pop up shops in the Dryden Building to buy my soccer crazed son a Flint City Bucks jersey and the local Gill-Roy’s hardware store to buy my mom the newest pink Yeti. After I’m done I am certain to stop at our favorite restaurant, Cork on Saginaw, to pick up take out.

There are plenty of options around Michigan to choose from when Buying Local. Eateries in Sault Ste. Marie offer a wide variety of carryout choices from Upper Peninsula favorites like homemade pasties from Frank’s Place to delicious sweet treats from Zak’s Kandy Haus.  

In the southwest part of the state, buy the bookworm in your life a novel from Forever Books in downtown St. Joseph; or if you’re looking for a gift for your athlete in your family, visit Jack Pearl’s Team Sports in Battle Creek.

From the U.P. to the southernmost counties, Michiganders support one another. Prior to the pandemic, Michigan communities were vibrant places to visit, live and work. Although things might look a little different this holiday season, we can do our part by supporting local businesses to help ensure our communities weather this storm.

Whether it’s to support yourself and business, your neighbor or your family, please make the extra effort to support local this year and going forward.

No matter where in Michigan you’re located, you can use these resources on to find the perfect local places to shopeat and stay