Local businesses provide a social and economic boost that is tangible even if it goes unmeasured. A community's quality of life changes when they disappear.
When asked to name our favorite restaurant, cafe, or shop, it's typically a unique local business. Just look at the Tri-City Herald's "People's Choice Awards" as proof.
Those businesses define our sense of place, but we often forget their survival depends on our patronage. Local owners typically have invested much of their life savings in their businesses. They have a natural interest in our community's long-term health.
Community-based businesses are essential to charitable endeavors; their owners frequently serve on local boards and support numerous causes.
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Dollars spent at community-based merchants create a multiplier effect in the local economy. For each dollar spent at a local independent merchant, three or more times as much typically goes back into the local economy compared with a dollar spent at chain-owned businesses.
It was a great disappointment to see multi-location chain operations such as Starbucks (13) and Walgreens (eight) compete as single entities against truly local small businesses. To be fair, and make the playing field level, each individual store should compete on its own merit.
LARRY CHAPMAN, Richland