Small businesses keep Phoenix vibrant.

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Small businesses keep Phoenix vibrant.

Local Phoenix businesses have played a critical role in the increased economic diversity, growth and unique sense of community for the area of downtown Phoenix.

Tim Eigo, the Downtown Voices Coalition chair, said a study done by Local First Arizona showcases how much of an economic impact local businesses can create.  “For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $43 remains in the economy and returns to the community,” Eigo said.

When an individual chooses to buy items from a big box store “only about $13 returns to the community” and the rest goes to corporate headquarters, Eigo said. Money from shopping locally instantly gives you “more bang for your buck” as it goes towards creating jobs, paying wages and building community pride, he added.

A concern for shoppers may be the common misconception that local shops are more expensive, Eigo said. Although this may be the case for some businesses, it is not true for all, he added. Eigo said “you get a far more diverse shopping experience” with local businesses as they truly care about their customers.

Sierra LaDuke, a 21-year-old downtown Phoenix resident and local business enthusiast said she would rather “spend a little extra money” and know that she is directly contributing to the well-being of her community. “I tend to enjoy my experiences more when I dine or shop at local places exclusive to Downtown Phoenix,” she added. 

The owners of local shops have a unique mindset when it comes to getting results  since they live and work in the same community, Eigo said. Local business owners are not going to destroy their community by “dumping trash or oil all over,” they are going to keep their community clean, he added.

LaDuke said local businesses add a special spark to Downtown Phoenix because they have customer service that feels like family. She recalled a recent experience as she picked up a catering order from a local gyro restaurant. “They helped me carry everything to my car and even called after asking if everyone had enjoyed their meals,” LaDuke said. “I would have likely never gotten this kind of service if I had gone somewhere like Pita Jungle.”

Eigo said if anyone is questioning the value of small businesses they should consider “how far they would go to see a Walmart” which most likely is not very far. People will go far to dine, shop or take part in the culture or special part of a city, he added. “How many people visit New York City to see a Walmart? They don’t,” Eigo said.

When I think about downtown Phoenix, the first things that come to mind are Jobot, Phoenix Public Market and Desoto Marketplace,” LaDuke said. These are all local and cool hangout spots that “bring life and character to our community,” she added.

Beth Larson, a senior lecturer at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University said small businesses benefit communities in ways many people do not typically consider. Larson said shopping or dining at local businesses can positively impact our environment as there is a decrease in transportation of goods on highways, creating less wear and tear. This ultimately results in the decreased use of natural and mineral resources such as oil or gas, she added.

“Knowing where your goods come from helps keep business practices ethical,” Larson said. Small businesses are a great opportunity for customers who want to be conscientious of their goods not being tested on animals or that child labor laws are being adhered to, she added.

Larson said that as a human geographer, community cohesiveness is “just as important as economic benefits.” “It’s more fun to shop and spend money in cool, trendy, small shops or eat in small holes-in-the-wall,” she added. “Places like these add local flavor and create an invigorating environment.”

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