Shopping locally really makes cents

Shopping locally makes sense – and cents.

The second largest shopping season of the year will soon be upon us.

Yes, retailers and customers are gearing up for the annual back-to-school shopping season – second only to the Christmas holiday shopping season.

To help local areas and the entire state, Michigan Retailers Association’s “Buy Nearby” campaign has introduced its new mascot and released new economic data underscoring the important benefits of shopping in Michigan.

The mascot, dubbed Buy Nearby Guy, is an 8-foot-tall representation of a shopping bag in the shape of Michigan, colored blue to mirror Michigan’s lakes and skies. Michiganders can expect to see him in local stores, downtowns, malls and community events in coming months as part of MRA’s year-round Buy Nearby campaign.

James P. Hallan, president and CEO of Michigan Retailers Association, and local retailers introduced Buy Nearby Guy at news conferences in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

More importantly, they also released new economic data showing that consumer support of Buy Nearby could add billions of dollars in economic activity and tens of thousands of new Michigan jobs.

That’s right, billions of dollars and tens of thousands of new jobs.

The study by East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group found that Michigan in 2015 would gain an estimated 74,639 additional jobs and $9 billion in additional economic activity, including $2.5 billion in additional wages the new workers would earn, if Michigan consumers bought from retailers in Michigan rather than from “remote” sellers.

“At Michigan Retailers Association we know that retail purchases made right here in Michigan have a monumental impact on our state and local communities, and we now have new data showing just how positive those benefits could be,” Hallan said.

“We encourage shoppers to consider these benefits to their communities, schools, businesses, families and neighbors when making their purchases,” he said.

Look folks, this is not rocket science.

If area residents want Chicago, Appleton, Milwaukee, and Green Bay to have thriving economies, good jobs, better schools and a lower tax rate, then go ahead. Take that back-to-school shopping trip out of town.

However, if local folks want this area to enjoy a booming economy, better-paying jobs, a good educational system and reasonable taxes, then they should patronize local retailers.

When local residents make out their shopping lists, they should shop locally.

By doing this, they are supporting their friends and neighbors.

The Michigan Retailers Association Buy Nearby campaign is an ongoing, year-round, feel-good campaign intended to create excitement about the great shopping in Michigan and the advantages of supporting retailers and communities in Michigan.

About half of every dollar spent in a Michigan store goes back into the local and Michigan economies, and more than 866,000 Michigan jobs are directly dependent on retail sales.

“As a local retailer, my business is able to thrive only with the support of dedicated customers and citizens who make it a priority to shop nearby, instead of through out-of-state online retailers,” said Brian Jones, co-owner of Playmakers, a footwear and apparel store in Okemos near Lansing.

The Buy Nearby campaign notes that if Michigan consumers switched only one in 10 of their purchases from out-of-state merchants to retailers in Michigan, the state would gain more than $900 million in increased economic activity and 7,463 new jobs.

Switching one in five purchases would mean more than $1.8 billion in increased activity and 15,000 new jobs.

Local residents may at times feel helpless in today’s economy. They shouldn’t.

Each and every person has the ability to make a substantial impact on local businesses.

How? Simply switch your purchases from an out-of-state retailer to a neighborhood store.

You’ll be supporting the local economy and the local community.