Why Supporting Local Matters: An Op-Ed from Kenny Family Stores CEO Chris L. Kenny
Local Delaware Entrepreneur and Aisle Trials contestant Hami Mahani presents his company 6AM Run’s products at Kenny Family Stores.
Our society is undoubtedly changed forever this year. We’ve all been negatively impacted in some way, yet we continue on and persevere. By now we know who the big winners of the Coronavirus epidemic are and they are not our local businesses in our communities; on the contrary, the biggest pandemic economic winners are big tech and online digital retail giants like Amazon. While big tech soared, our local businesses across the country—especially the brick & mortar businesses forced to temporarily close—bore the brunt costs of lockdown. Job loss is predicted to reach levels not seen in the country since the Great Depression. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses have already closed for good, and it is estimated one third of businesses could shut down for good in total.
So while our state and country as a whole continue to reel from the virus and the resulting societal and economic consequences, what can we do to help our local communities and economies? Support Local is the obvious answer, but what does it mean to truly Support Local? And why should we want to put in the extra effort to support the communities around us, especially when the one-click-away convenience of digital shopping is right there on our screens and in front of our face now more than ever?
The answer? Because keeping businesses local and communities tight-knit helps bolster against shocks in the economy like the pandemic. Keeping businesses local and our communities tight-knit solidifies the flow of resources and support for those that matter most to us: our friends, family and community.
- For every $100 spent on local businesses, $68 will stay in the community.
- Independent retailers spend more than three times as much money per dollar of sales in the community in which they operate than what chain competitors spend in the community.
- Independent restaurants return more than two times the amount of money per dollar spent into the community than what restaurant chains return.
- Small businesses employ 77 million Americans and are responsible for 65% of all new jobs in the past 17 years.
- 66% of small businesses give back to local charities, 48% support local youth organizations and over a third aid, support and donate local first responders, religious organizations and service groups like the Rotary Club and Scouts.
Aisle Trials contestants present their products at Kenny Family Stores: Nayel Akakpo of Nayel’s Hot Pepper Sauce (Left) and Stephanie Grant of Sassy Bee Honey (Right).
Supporting the local economy helps foster community identity and encourage community engagement and involvement. We might be a small state, Delaware, but our ability to support each other and each other’s businesses goes a long way to recovering from a tough 2020.
Our focus on supporting local at Kenny Family Stores is why we launched Aisle Trials this year, a competition series to provide Delaware entrepreneurs not only the opportunity to be sold in our stores but to also offer mentoring and education on how to grow their local businesses. Our first Aisle Trials winner will be announced this month at aisletrials.com and on my social media, and we will be launching our second series and round of Delaware food business submissions for Aisle Trials in January 2021.
The current climate necessitates the need for supporting local, and there are countless ways to support the community and businesses right in our backyard, many of which can be done from the comfort of your own home:
- Order takeout from a local DE restaurant you haven’t tried yet
- Shop for the holiday season at one of the local mom-and-pop shops. A lot of them have online stores now and advertise on social media, so you can shop at home.
- Give the local mechanic a chance before getting that tune-up at one of the big chain commercial car repair shops.
- If you need help to find listings of local small businesses to support, check out your local Chamber of Commerce:
So as we end a tough year, let’s help those around us by supporting local and ensuring we sustain the health and wellbeing of the ones who matter most to us: family, friends and community.
–Chris L. Kenny