For the first time, Hampton Roads proclaims a Buy Local month for the region, local merchants association Retail Alliance announced today.

The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC), after agreement from all 17 localities, signed the resolution for Buy Local month to be held in Hampton Roads between November 15 and December 15, 2019.

Recognizing the need for more awareness of why it’s important to keep dollars in Hampton Roads, Retail Alliance approached the HRPDC with the proposal. The HRPDC agreed and a resolution was signed on July 18, 2019. The HRPDC recognizes that a buy local month will “bring the region together in supporting and celebrating local-independent businesses and the impact they have on the region’s culture, economy and character.”

“It is an exciting resolution for the region,” said Andria McClellan, Vice Chair of the HRPDC. “Hampton Roads is a community of communities and standing together for small business will be impactful for years to come.”

“When we, Retail Alliance, surveyed our small business members before and after the 2018 holidays, the biggest challenges noted were ‘limited marketing and advertising dollars’ and ‘consumers’ lack of awareness of locally owned businesses’,” remarked Lisa Renée Jennings, Retail Alliance LOVEVA Buy Local Program Manager. “In an area with a transient population of military and college students, big box stores have the advantage of name recognition and familiarity therefore providing an advantage over small businesses. In the age of one click purchases, it’s up to every individual to act and buy local. This mantra has been said time and time again, but we need to make sure everyone understands it: We must support what we love, or risk losing it.”

There is a direct multiplier three or more times greater when people spend with independent stores, compared to patronizing chain outlets. When the shop owner pays local sales tax, pays rent to a local property owner, prints its menu locally, uses a local attorney or sources local beer to stock the shelves, all this tax revenue keeps circulating again and again. When people shop at a big box store there is a smaller return to a local economy, particularly if that company has been given a tax break or some other incentive to operate in that locality.

And it is not only economic benefits that come from shopping local. The sense of place that everyone enjoys here in Hampton Roads; all that makes us unique, is largely thanks to our small businesses. Where we meet to dine with friends, where we take out of town guests to show off hidden treasures, where we buy gifts, and where we enjoy craft spirits, are what build the coastal Virginia culture and character.

Economically, it’s also jobs. Studies show that locally owned businesses employ more people per unit of sales, and retain more employees during economic downturns, while big-box stores reduce the number of retail jobs in a region or close completely. Small businesses, more often than not, pay a higher than minimum wage and allow more flexible hours.

It’s also better democracy. When a high number of owners who are also residents with ties to the community, there is more involvement in key decisions that shape our lives.

“If Hampton Roads is to retain its uniqueness, personality, and entrepreneurial opportunities, everyone needs to lean in to support our determined small business community and our ever-growing entrepreneurial movement across Hampton Roads,“ continued Jennings.

Consumers can look for each of the 17 localities to promote and uphold this celebration in support of small businesses from November 15 – December 15. If every household shifted just 10% more to local spending the investment would be significant. Public school funding, infrastructure projects and emergency responder budgets all would benefit and that alone is worth celebrating.

Check out more resources on our Buy Local Page.

# # #

About Retail Alliance

Retail Alliance is a non-profit trade association serving the interests of local retailers and small business in Hampton Roads since 1903. The organization promotes and supports the healthy growth of retail businesses and trade through education, advocacy and member benefits.