Buy Local to Keep Sales Tax Local
by Brian Kingsley - Thursday, October 17th, 2013

I always encourage everyone to buy local for many good reasons.

I always encourage everyone to buy local for many good reasons.   

Obviously, it’s good for local, independently owned businesses.  But it also increases the redistribution of local tax revenue which, in turn, helps us all.

If you shop in cities or towns away from where you live or you shop with big-box stores and large national retailers online or at one of their brick-and-mortar locations, you’re helping to pay the salaries of firefighters, police officers, etc., in their community, not in our community.

As retail sales continue to climb in this economy (and boy, are the big-box retailers getting clever and … unfortunately bigger), cities, towns and villages across our country have realized they should not take local sales taxes for granted. Over the past few years, Syracuse and Central New Yorkers have become much more dependent on consumers to drive our local economy’s growth for our locally owned businesses. That’s a good thing, and all Buy Local supporters thank you.

To cite one example of how purchasing from our “locals” has helped many businesses in Livingston County, read this article by Josh Williams.  The same results happen in Syracuse and Onondaga County.

Syracuse and Central New York businesses are starting to feel the positive effects of all of us making a concerted effort to buy local, thanks to an organization called SyracuseFirst, Syracuse and Onondaga County’s Buy Local pioneers, spearheaded by Chris Fowler, the organization’s chief executive officer.

Last year, County Executive Joanie Mahoney and Mayor Stephanie Miner declared November “Buy Local Month” thanks to the efforts of Fowler and the insight of two (there are many more on board) of our local government leaders.

“Buying local helps boost our economy and supports our sustainability as a community,” said Mahoney.

Fowler said that as consumers should consider shifting our purchases from national retailers to local businesses.

“Even a 10 percent shift to independent, local businesses has an enormous impact” Fowler said. He said a 10 percent shift could boost our local economy by nearly $130 million a year.

Now that is one positive impact our city, county and region should not ignore, especially when November is only a couple of weeks away.

Why is November so important? 

Let’s look to the National Retail Federation’s recent  report about retail sales predictions for this year’s holiday season, and pay special attention to the “Shop.org Forecasts Online Sales to Grow between 13-15% This Holiday Season” comments in that article.

I don’t know where they get their numbers, but they scare the hell out of me because they are, for the most part, accurate.  If you own a locally owned independent business in our region, their predictions should scare the hell out of you, as well.

Fowler knows that the vast majority of retail spending happens between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31.   Our Buy Local nemeses know that better than the vast majority of consumers do.  Many of the big-box stores and large retailers began their holiday shopping advertising weeks ago.  They have millions to spend.  The average local  business can’t come close to competing in advertising.

This holiday season, do your best to stay away from the online purchases with out-of-state big retailers who are more than happy to take our local tax dollars from us.  They have been doing it for years, because it’s like taking candy from a baby.  Especially online.  It’s all too easy to hit that “complete purchase” button online, but if one of our local businesses sells online, smack that button as often as you can.

And please remember; The only Buy Local campaign that will be effective has to be a constantly supported and sustained effort, not one based on quick marketing gimmicks and not one which focuses on any one group of select local, independently owned businesses.  Everyone who shops (which is all of us) needs to spread the Buy Local love.

 Drive down any major street in Syracuse, on any side of our city and make a conscious effort to look for our local businesses.  In brief, try a new place in a section of the city and county where you might not have shopped before. To help our community, shop in our community at locally owned independent businesses.  If you live in the city, buy your gas, groceries, gifts, etc., in the city.  If you live in Utica, buy your holiday gifts in Utica.

Help keep our tax dollars working for us by building a stronger, more sustainable community.

But don’t just concentrate your spending habits locally during the holiday season.  Please Buy Local all year long.  Remember: This must be a sustained effort.

Thanks for supporting Buy Local campaigns in your community.

Brian Kingsley is a marketing, advertising and promotions consultant and owner of Geo Dux Small Business Services.  Email him at geo@geodux.com.

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