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Shopping locally benefits whole community

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Customers in Hudson may have noticed a thank-you card as they unloaded their shopping bags recently. The recognition is just part of a yearlong campaign to raise awareness and patronage of Hudson's independent businesses.

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Ruth Misenko of Seasons on St. Croix said the idea for the campaign grew out of a "Good Morning Hudson" presentation made by Stacy Mitchell, a researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and author of "The Hometown Advantage: How to Defend Your Main Street Against Chain Stores and Why It Matters."

"What she said rang true with a lot of us who operate our own businesses. She pointed out that economically and socially healthy communities have a balance of both independent and big box (chain) stores. We feel we have a pretty good mix already, but we need to spread the word and let people know the impact their dollars have when they are spent at local, independent businesses," said Misenko.

According to information presented by Mitchell, 54 cents of every dollar spent at a locally owned business stays in the community as compared to 14 cents of every dollar spent at chain stores. Misenko said keeping those dollars in town helps to support a variety of businesses and organizations in the community including banks, insurance agencies, advertising outlets, dealerships and other retailers.

In addition to benefits to the local business community, shopping locally also impacts area non-profits and other community organizations with increased charitable giving. Misenko said statistics show that for every $2,000 donated by local independent businesses to the community, the average big-box store gives between $100-$500. There are exceptions to that in Hudson but Misenko said the locally owned businesses in Hudson have a long tradition of supporting community organizations and area non-profits with cash, gifts and services.

The message that locally owned businesses are important to the overall health of the community was not a difficult sell when it was decided to form HIBA, the Hudson Independent Business Association. Under the umbrella of the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce, more than 45 organizations and businesses have partnered to get the message out to residents how important it is that they stay or become customers in Hudson. There are three levels of membership in the group: full participants, supporting members and non-profit memberships.

This fall the group launched its yearlong campaign, "Thanks for Stopping By!" With print ads, posters and thank-you cards to shoppers, the campaign is designed to encourage customers and clients, along with visitors, to shop, eat and buy locally.

Misenko said Hudson is fortunate to have a defined downtown area, but HIBA goes beyond downtown to include locally owned shops and businesses around the city including Coulee Road, Prairie View Center and Crest View Drive.

Misenko said HIBA members hope the campaign will make people more aware of the benefit of supporting local independent businesses. "It is good for them and for the whole community," she said.

For more information about HIBA, contact the Chamber of Commerce at (715) 386-8411.

Meg Heaton can be reached at mheaton@rivertowns.net

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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