The Economics of Being Nice

(Original article in The Scarborough Comet)

It’s always hard to explain the concept of Totally Locally, as there are so many threads. You are probably familiar with the £5 Message, but there is a lot more going on underneath that. And it’s all to do with economics – please don’t switch off, it’s not boring, honest, despite what George Osbourne would have you think.

So here is my attempt to show how it all works……

Totally Locally is run completely by volunteers – people who just want to make their town a little better. And it’s all about people like you supporting small businesses, by just spending a little of your money each week in their shops. It doesn’t mean you can’t use a supermarket, it just means you do your bit for your community.

Andrea-_-Deli-Belge

When enough people do this, those little businesses thrive. And when they thrive, it makes more people likely to set up a business in your town.   Before you know it, your town starts to feel a little better, and a bit more vibrant.

Then people start talking about how it’s a great place to shop with loads of great, unique shops selling stuff you can’t find at all the big stores. Then more people come. And more businesses set up. It’s a big snowball effect.

How do we know? Because we’ve seen it happen in many towns across the UK. People support local businesses and the local economy grows.

The knock on effect is huge too. Each small business is far more likely to use local tradesmen, suppliers, makers, growers, accountants, window cleaners etc… than a big chain store. Which means your money supports lots of other businesses too.

Here’s an example:

If a coffee chain decides to move into your town, they bring in their own workmen, their own sign makers and electricians to get the shop open, then when it opens everything comes from a central depot or office which could be 100 miles away, where accounts are done and everything from coffee to cakes to cups and saucers come from. Apart from wages paid to staff, there’s almost no contribution to the local economy.
starbucks
Compare that to a local independent cafe. We’ve found that the average local cafe uses around 20 local suppliers – we even found one with 72! And if you think how each of those suppliers will probably use 20 local suppliers themselves, the effect on the money staying in your town is huge. This applies to every type of independent shop.
indipendent-cafes
But it’s not just about you, the public. Ask your butcher if he uses the bookshop, the bookshop if they use the greengrocer or your fishmonger if they uses the butcher. If those businesses expect you to support them, expect them to support each other.

In the end it’s a collective responsibility for us all to look after each other. And when we do our towns become nicer places, with more jobs and more resources. And your kids will have a better place to grow up.

And that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

Chris Sands