Opinion: Shopping local will save your city
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New Orleans is a city booming with culture. When people come to visit, they usually spend time walking around the French Quarter, making their way to Café Du Monde for some mouthwatering beignets or taking a stroll down Magazine Street.
Nicknamed the Big Easy, most people only get to know the city using the guides that they pick up from the airport. They visit without ever learning about the priceless pieces that they could experience by shopping local.
This city has a massive community of local businesses throughout the different parishes. In New Orleans specifically, small, local businesses capture the city’s culture and character unlike any other way. Most business owners are familiar with the specialties of the area because of family ties that can go back centuries.
By shopping local, you will be able to find some of the most unique gift items for your friends and family. If you go to a local restaurant, outside of the French Quarter or Magazine Street, your experience will be different. You will not feel like you are eating the usual.
Getting to know the community by shopping local is beneficial to both visitors and locals. You can explore New Orleans in a whole new way while contributing to an economy that relies on tourist spending. Your money goes into the economy, creating more jobs with higher wages and encouraging entrepreneurship.
Most homegrown business owners understand the needs of their communities and can shed light on local issues. These businesses provide an array of services, like how most local retailers carry a higher percent of locally-produced goods rather than products from huge chains.
For visitors, students and natives alike, going to a local business first benefits everyone.
Stores like Walmart and Walgreens can put local pharmacies and food stores out of business, places that have been mom-and-pop stores for generations. Many small businesses even end up paying more taxes than big chain stores, making it even more difficult to compete.
As a supporting member of a non-profit called StayLocal, whose focus is to support small businesses, I have been exposed to a world that I truly never got a chance to know before I came to this city.
By not shopping local, we are robbing our communities of sustainability. Even more, we are robbing our city of its character. Local businesses create diversity. Your favorite local business can define your sense of place.
Not all chains give back to the areas where they are located, and the ones that do cannot possibly be as close to the issues as local families who have been in business for decades.
Spend time researching and learning about the impact that local businesses can have in your community.
You can start visiting the home pages of the American Independent Business Alliance, a Washington DC organization that lobbies federal and state governments on behalf of businesses who support economically and environmentally sustainable policies.
Also, you can check out the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a comprehensive website full of great information and resources
One of my favorite quotes from a local business here in New Orleans is, “When you support small business, you’re supporting a dream”.
Support that dream by shopping local in New Orleans.