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Shopping local benefits economy with personal touches

Hospitality and Tourism
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Greenville-based marketing technology company Locally Epic is encouraging shoppers to buy local, not just through the holiday season, but year-round.

Locally Epic founder and CEO Chase Michaels said there are 800,000 people across the Upstate between the ages of 16 and 70; and if each person would spend $20 a week locally, across 52 weeks, that would increase the local economy by $300 million in one year.

“When I’ve shared this, jaws dropped,” he said. “It shows how important our $20 is. It keeps downtowns and local businesses growing.

“Money made here should be spent here. It’s important for people to spend locally.”

Kelly Colacioppo has owned The Cook’s Station in downtown Greenville for 20 years. She likes the personal touches that can come with shopping locally, but said operating a local business has its challenges.

“Location has always been a challenge for us, especially the first 12 to 13 years. Being in the West End used to be an issue. No one wanted to come down here,” she said.

The Cook’s Station is located at 659 S. Main St.

Kelly Colacioppo has owned The Cook's Station for 20 years. (Photo/Teresa Cutlip)

“Truth is, you can get online and maybe find some things we have here, but here you can touch and feel the product, talk to people and keep money local,” she said. “And here things are wrapped and ready to go. Shopping locally provides you with personal touches you won’t get online.”Colacioppo said the big challenge for her now is the internet. But over time she has learned to make it work.

To be competitive, Colacioppo said local shopping has to be more “experience driven.” She said local small business owners cannot sit idle in their stores. The Cook’s Station offers like cooking classes, wine tastings and bread tastings as a way to interact with the customers.

To further stress the importance of shopping locally, Michaels refers to the 75/35/1 rule. For each dollar spent locally, 75 cents stays in the community.

“Spend that dollar at a big box store and 35 cents stays local,” he said. “And if you buy online, only one cent of each dollar is returned to the community.

“We all live here because we love it here,” he said. “If we stop buying locally, we’ll lose the uniqueness of the Upstate that brought us here.”

Local businesses invest more in local labor, pay more in local taxes, raise more for local charities and spend more time on community and local government events and programs, Michaels said.

Why buy local?

The American Independent Business Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports independent business and local entrepreneurs, outlines on its website some benefits of shopping locally.

Building the community

The casual encounters at neighborhood–scale businesses and the public spaces around them build relationships and community cohesiveness.

Shaping community character

Independent businesses help give your community its distinct personality.

Increasing the wealth

The multiplier effect created by spending locally generates lasting impact on the prosperity of local organizations and residents.

Creating opportunity

Not only do independent businesses employ more people directly per dollar of revenue, they also are the customers of local printers, accountants, wholesalers, farms, attorneys expanding opportunities for local entrepreneurs.

Giving back

Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local nonprofits, events and teams compared to big businesses.

Reach Teresa Cutlip at 720-1223.

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