As the buy-local movement sweeps the country, communities across the U.S. have seen a resurgence in record stores, independent bookstores and unique coffee shops. In the home improvement industry, this resurgence affects communities on an even more intimate level. Retailers in this channel shape the way people build their homes, maintain their personal sanctuaries and live their lives. In other words, the buy-local movement helps hardware feel like home. Small businesses across a variety of sectors profoundly impact local economies. As the building blocks of the U.S. economy, small businesses reinvest locally, create jobs and give back to communities in ways national chains and online competitors simply can’t match. For home improvement retailers, this impact presents a significant incentive to embrace the buy-local movement.
Connecting Your Community
When you embrace the buy-local movement, you join a well-established network of small businesses and community organizations dedicated to furthering a common cause. Independent We Stand works with industry organizations like the North American Retail Hardware Association and national Main Street organizations, such as the American Independent Business Alliance, to support independent retailers with promotional materials, messaging and inspiration. Through buy-local groups, your business can access exclusive resources—such as social media graphics, webinars and advertising discounts—and build a network of allies willing to cross-promote your business and collaborate on communitywide campaigns. You may also find ways to engage local officials and policymakers to advocate on behalf of the small business community.
Retailers who identify with the buy-local movement have seen sales increase as a result of more exposure and new promotional strategies. In fact, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has previously found that independent retailers experience higher annual sales growth when a robust buy-local organization serves their community. According to the National Main Street Center, Main Street organizations have driven a net gain of 138,000 businesses and 614,000 jobs since 1980.
Your business already significantly impacts your local economy. When you take the next step by working with a buy-local organization, you can learn new strategies for promoting those impacts to your customers and you can access additional resources for growing your business. You’ll also set the stage for new businesses to open by fostering an appreciation for independent retailers in your community. As a result, your operation can better transform your town into a home sweet home for residents.
The Buy-Local Movement by the Numbers
The results of the buy-local movement are undeniable: Independent home improvement stores return twice as much money to local economies per dollar of sales compared to national chains. Independent We Stand and the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) have studied this impact for years. The Home Sweet Home Study series revealed how important the decision to support local hardware businesses is to local economies.
Here are some results from the study series. To see the complete results and to access shop-local signage like the poster below, visit NRHA’s Home Sweet Home research page.
- When homeowners purchase goods at locally owned home improvement operations, sellers generate
twice the local economic activity on the same revenue.
- Purchases from local lumberyards drive 113 percent more economic activity than those same purchases made at national chains.
- If contractors shifted 10 percent of their purchases from national chains to independent suppliers, hometowns around the country see an
additional $1.5 billion in economic activity.
- Local retailers reinvest 130 percent more of their revenues than chain retailers and 676 percent more of their revenues than Amazon.
Buying into the buy-local movement means being a champion for your business’s independent identity. As the data shows, there’s obvious value in independent businesses. Identifying as part of that group can make a difference to your customers.