Small Retailers Gaining Force
While online mega-shopping malls have decimated many categories of small business around the country, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies notes that independent bookstores are doing surprisingly well. For the last four years, their number and total sales have grown, despite the recent recession. In 2009, citizens patronized 1,651 independent bookstores in the United States; today their number exceeds 1,900.
In addition, local coffee shops have grown faster than the largest chain’s storefronts. Bakers and specialty food purveyors, independent pharmacies and pet, fabric and stationery stores are growing, too.
One reason for the good news is the “buy local” ethic promoted by groups such as the American Independent Business Alliance. Last year, sales at independent businesses in cities benefitting from these campaigns grew 8.6 percent; those without them still increased 3.4 percent.
Independents are winning customer loyalty in part by hosting and sponsoring events that enrich the community. The public is realizing that buying local supports area families, keeps more dollars circulating locally and strengthens a healthy sense of community that benefits everyone.