We met up with Erin Hancock of Buffalo First last week to learn more about the study she was putting together for local businesses to participate in, and its impact, and we’re here to ask you to participate by filling out a quick survey!
Local Businesses Spell Success for Buffalo
Too often, people talk about Buffalo’s shiny, new developments as a cornerstone of the rise and renaissance of the city. For most people with a critical eye or a calculator, it’s easy to figure out that “big development” (i.e. chain stores and corporate development in the form of large rectangular structures often subsidized by government is some way) does not spell success. The best return for our city in the short and long term is development that grows and is managed right here in Buffalo. That means local businesses. Buffalo is still a unique city and one whose local businesses give it character and economic stability. Mornings wouldn’t be the same without a strong cup of coffee from one of the city’s best cafes. Watching the game would fall flat without yummy wings from a favorite neighborhood pub. And your wardrobe and gift-giving would be less than stellar without the plethora of locally-owned stores. These local businesses weave the fabric of our community. They are where we meet, where we work and where we shop.
Based on research across several US jurisdictions by Civic Economics, a firm that helps communities measure the important impact of local businesses, the American Independent Business Association reported that on average nearly half of each purchase at a local, independent business was recirculated locally, compared with less than 14% of chain store purchases. So not only do we enjoy the notion of buying local and knowing who we’re buying from, but the stats speak volumes for the critical economic benefit of supporting local businesses as well. Right now, we know anecdotally that local businesses in Buffalo are important (and appealing) to support, but we haven’t yet collected the data for our own city. That’s where Buffalo First comes in.
Buffalo First is a nonprofit corporation founded in 2006 as a coalition of local businesses committed to educating the public about the importance of a strong local economy. Today, Buffalo First exists to manage, support, and connect programs that fulfill the vision of a just and sustainable local economy. The big goal is a “local, green, and fair” economy for Western New York, and the concept of a “triple bottom line” for business: people, planet, and profit.
If you’ve ever seen the catchy signs in local storefronts and restaurants like “Eat local….the kale is always greener”, “Drink local….local brew creates more buzz” or “Buy local…keep 3x more money in the local economy”, you’ve seen the work of the board, staff and volunteers of Buffalo First. The latest project is conducting an independent business impact study. In partnership with Civic Economics, the firm whose previous research generated the above-mentioned stats, Buffalo First is helping count the impact of local businesses on the prosperity of Buffalo.
Calling all local, independent businesses – this one’s for us
As part of the ‘Think Local First’ consumer education campaign and efforts to keep our city’s key stakeholders informed, there is a simple yet impactful study on Buffalo’s local businesses underway. Buffalo First is inviting you to be heard and join in. As a local business owner, by giving only 15-20 minutes of your time to complete an online survey, you are helping showcase why it’s essential to promote and protect Buffalo’s local entrepreneurs. We want to curb the flow of money out of our community. Together we will clearly demonstrate the value of Buffalo’s local businesses in comparison to national chains. Because of the comparison data that is available, this survey is limited to independent retailers (with an actual storefront) and restaurants (both full and limited service) located in Erie County, NY. Data will be reported in aggregate form so no business will be named individually, thus protecting the privacy of your data. Participate and get more info here: www.buffalofirst.org/indie-impact-study
We want to be able to speak loud and proud about Buffalo’s local businesses! With your participation, we will be able to share the full story like other cities have done after completing this study in terms of local, current stats that highlight the fundamental role independent businesses play in keeping cities strong.
Other cities have used this data to engage consumers in mindful shopping and prioritizing local businesses over chain stores through ‘buy local’ campaigns. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that cities that ran “buy local” campaigns had significantly larger year over year sales increases for local businesses in comparison to cities that didn’t run campaigns. Help provide the data that makes these campaigns successful by contributing a sliver of your day to participate.
We can’t say it enough….local businesses matter! And this study is measuring what matters.
Speaking of local businesses, Rise Apparel is back!