Recently, I stopped in at a local auto repair shop – not one of the big chains, just one of those independent repair shops that you’ll find in almost every town. As we settled my bill, I looked around his shop and a question popped into my head.
“If you don’t mind me asking, where do you purchase your auto supplies?”
The repairman looked up at me. “Well… we get our parts from a bunch of places. I have a few big distributors that ship me stuff. Sometimes I’ll go up the road to Advance or something if I need some parts.”
I thought about that for a minute.
“Why don’t you use that parts shop on Duff Avenue?”
“Well…” he said. “To be honest, I used to buy from them a long time ago, but we got in a fight over some prices so I started shopping at Advance.”
“Were the prices bad?”
“Actually, Advance is about the same, but it’s the principle of the matter.”
After I left the shop, his comment made me think. Instead of buying from a local shop, this repairman buys his parts from Advance, even though the prices are about the same.
The problem with that is that although the prices are about the same, the value he gets from each purchase is quite different.
Think of it this way. If our friendly repairman spends $100 in parts at Advance, at least some of that money heads straight out of town to help pay for franchise fees and other such expenses. It directly leaves the community without helping to support people within the community in any way.
On the other hand, if that same $100 is spent at the local auto parts shop, that $100 has a much greater chance of staying within the community. Instead of leaving the community in the form of franchise fees, the money stays in town and goes for advertising on the local radio station, helping to keep their doors open. That local business owner employs several people in the community. He himself likely lives in the town, spreading his money around to a wide array of businesses in the town.
Every extra dollar being spread around the community is good for the repairman’s business. It keeps people in town, keeps them employed, and gives them money in their pocket with which to do things like, well, getting their car repaired.
To put it simply, there’s a much better chance that a dollar spent at a local supplier will go back into the coffers of your business than a dollar spent from a supplier that’s halfway across the country or in another part of the world.
Keep that principle in mind the next time you’re shopping around for some supplies that you need on the spur of the moment. Are you better off spending your office supply dollars at Staples or at the local shop on Main Street? Are you better off taking your business guests out to lunch at Chili’s or at that wonderful local restaurant on the other side of town?
Every little choice makes an impact. Support your local businesses and, indirectly, they’ll support you.