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SPOTLIGHT REPORT

How supporting local businesses helps Austin


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Austin Unchained
Austin Unchained

Austinites know that they have choices when it comes to where they spend their money. More so than most other cities, Austin offers a variety of locally-owned alternatives to just about any national chain. We can buy books at Bookpeople instead of Borders, coffee at Spider House instead of Starbucks, and get a quick meal at Taco Xpress instead of Taco Bell. But what are the real benefits of buying locally?

Austin UnchainedThe most obvious benefits are cultural.

"Culturally, it's fairly well known that what sets Austin apart from everywhere else is the character of the city, and that character is formed essentially by the locally owned businesses," says Steve Bercu of the Austin Independent Business Alliance. "I don't want to see Austin turn into a place that is totally the same as everywhere else. If it does, why do I want to live here?"

Austin UnchainedBuying locally also improves the economy of Austin as a whole. A study conducted by Civic Economics showed that much more of the money spent at locally owned businesses stays in Austin.

"We said, 'What happens to $100 that's dropped at Bookpeople?', and we found that about $45 of that is still here tomorrow," says Dan Houston of Civic Economics. "At a chain store, that's just like Bookpeople only headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, only $13 of that is here tomorrow. The rest of that disappeared with the midnight bank transaction, and it's never coming back."

Austin UnchainedThe benefits of buying locally are hard to ignore.

"Each time you go in and spend a dollar somewhere, you're voting to help that business survive, whatever that business might be," Bercu says, "And the question is, where do you place your votes? Do you want to place them with people who are here in your community, or do you want to vote for someone else?"


 

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