Tony Larson’s business lacks a maintenance department, tech guys and advertising gurus. Instead of those departments and the extra employees they bring, Larson and his family do all the work required to run Montello Meat Market. The Holland, Mich., butcher shop does well selling high-end beef, but some community members still are unaware of its presence, Larson said.
Tony Larson’s business lacks a maintenance department, tech guys and advertising gurus.
Instead of those departments and the extra employees they bring, Larson and his family do all the work required to run Montello Meat Market.
The Holland butcher shop does well selling high-end beef, but some community members still are unaware of its presence, Larson said.
That’s why he jumped at the opportunity to join the newly formed Lakeshore Independent Business Alliance, a group of local companies.
Larson hopes the nonprofit organization will keep money in the community by promoting small businesses that don’t have a huge advertising budget.
“We can’t get the word out at the same level as (chain stores) can. ... A lot of people don’t even know some of the local businesses exist,” Larson said.
The International Franchise Association, however, contends that chains have an important role in the economy as well.
“Data show that the franchising industry outpaces many other sectors in terms of creating new business, new jobs and more economic output, even during tough economic times,” IFA President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a Jan. 22 statement.
The local alliance is part of a trend that started about eight years ago and really picked up in the last three years, said Michele Lonergan, chairwoman of the group and owner of TreeHouse Books in Holland.
Interest in local business movements has increased as economic studies across the country emerge, showing some advantages of buying local, she said. Grand Rapids has a group known as Local First.
“If you spend money locally, more of a percentage of it stays locally (than chain stores),” Lonergan said.
She cited an economic study that was conducted in 2003 by an independent business alliance in Austin, Texas.
It concluded that for every $100 spent at a chain, $13 remained in the community while $45 remained when spent with a local business, according to Montana-based American Independent Business Alliance.
The local effort began in the summer of 2008 when an AIBA representative came and spoke in Holland, Lonergan said.
A core group of people then met together each month until a “soft launch” for the group took place in October, she said. About 25 businesses are involved with hopes of 75 joining by June.
A number of events are planned this year to educate people about local businesses’ impact on the economy.
“We feel we can offer a service or product equal to or better,” Larson said. “We feel we can do it well and can fill a need.”
The alliance’s goal isn’t to stop chains, but rather to encourage people to be balanced in their shopping, Lonergan said.
“Remember us,” she said.
The Holland Sentinel
Top 5 reasons to buy local
1. More money recirculates in area.
2. Unique businesses create character and prosperity.
3. Reduced environmental impact
4. Local business owners invest in community.
5. Competition and diversity lead to more choices.
Source: Lakeshore Independent Business Alliance