As you will see starting on page 13 of this week’s edition of The Explorer, we have the second rendition of the revamped Best of the Northwest. There are several reasons that make this year’s even better than last, and the main one is the number of voters who took the time to recognize some of those local businesses who deserve it.

Last year, The Explorer had just about 400 votes. This year, we had nearly 1,000 voters turnout, making this year’s results even more exciting. To all those who voted, The Explorer thanks you for your participation. It is greatly appreciated.

For this edition, we encourage you to take a look at all the finalists and consider visiting some of the popular local businesses that work to keep our communities going day in and day out. 

Most people know that running your own business is hard, making ends meet and paying employees is hard, but when local residents shop local it not only helps them out, but it also helps the local economy.

We live in a society of convenience and habit, meaning in most cases, the major chain will beat out the local business owner most of the time. And, while there are plenty of chains listed in our Best of the Northwest edition, it’s those local businesses that we really want to focus on.

The bottom line is this, when you spend money in town, at local business, you keep more money in your hometown. Why is that important? It’s important because keeping that money local means more dollars go toward roads, the community’s social services, schools, and the public libraries among others.

It has been estimated that locally-owned businesses return about 80 percent of each dollar to the community.

The Institute for Self Reliance put out a list of Top 10 reasons why shopping local is important. I end this editorial sharing those reasons with you.

1.  Local Character and Prosperity

In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.

2.  Community Well-Being

Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.

3. Local Decision-Making

Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

4.  Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy

Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.

5.  Job and Wages

Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

6.  Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

7.  Public Benefits and Costs

Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

8.  Environmental Sustainability

Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

9.  Competition

A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

10.  Product Diversity

A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

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