We here at Cowork Frederick are ferociously committed to sustainability – the kind we wrote about in our 2013 blog titled “Working Value: Sustainability” and the kind that values our fellow local businesses and seeks to support them – for the good of all of us.
There’s no getting around the fact that buying local reduces the use of fuel, reduces the homogenization of our world, and does other good things, so why would we at Cowork Frederick do anything else? While we could pay less money for some things at “big box” chains, the cost to our community is just not worth it. We believe in independent proprietors. We believe in “local”.
Why? Sustainable Connections offers 10 reasons to buy local. Among them are supporting community groups, keeping your community unique, reducing environmental impact, and creating more good jobs. The “Buy Local” argument usually centers on community benefits, from social interaction to tax revenues, but there’s an impact on the wallet as well. [A] study examined the economic impact of 10 local businesses against that of chain businesses. The study’s findings: Of every $100 spent at local businesses, $68 remains in the Chicago economy, while of every $100 spent at a chain, $43 remains in the Chicago economy. For every square foot occupied by a local firm, the local economic impact is $179. For every square foot occupied by a chain firm, local economic impact is $105.1
“Indie shopping” is a conscientious effort to patronize independents, or locally owned businesses, over chain stores when it’s possible to do so.1 Independent local businesses employ an array of supporting services by “buying local” themselves. They hire architects, designers, cabinet shops, sign makers and contractors for construction. Local accountants, insurance brokers, computer consultants, attorneys, advertising agencies help run it. Local retailers and distributors also carry a higher percentage of locally-produced goods than chains, meaning more jobs for local producers.
In contrast, a new chain store typically is a clone of other units, eliminates the need for local planning, and uses a minimum of local goods and services. A company-owned store’s profits promptly are exported to corporate headquarters. That’s simply good, efficient business for them, but not so good for our communities. Dollars spent at community-based merchants create a multiplier in the local economy, meaning that from each dollar spent at a local independent merchant, 2 to 3.5 recirculates in the local economy compared to a dollar spent at chain-owned businesses. This “local multiplier effect” means shifting more local purchasing to independent businesses is a key tool for creating more local jobs.2
So, at Cowork Frederick we go local at every opportunity. The coffee in our break room is purchased from Dublin Roasters Coffee, who hand-roasts organic and fair-trade products. The organic Trickling Springs creamer in our fridge is purchased at Firestone’s Market on Market. There’s tea from Voila! in our cabinet. We buy organic, locally-grown produce and honey for our break room at Common Market. Fitzgerald’s Heavy Timber Construction is doing the work on our front door. Every Thursday, Cowork Frederick members gather and go to lunch at a local downtown Frederick restaurant. The list goes on.
Further, our very purpose for being centers on building a community that provides a supportive, collaborative environment for small local businesses – from independent freelancers and solopreneurs who will always be “small” but will provide very valuable services to our community to entrepreneurs just getting their start and don’t need their own offices yet.
We “coworkers” often talk about community – the community that is formed when people choose to work around each other rather than working alone. We are also part of a broader community – in our case, Frederick, MD (downtown Frederick to be more specific) – and we are committed to doing our part to make that community stronger, healthier, and sustainable.