by Cassidy Johnson
Cities all over America have one thing in common — they thrive on the success of small locally owned business. Duluth is no exception, and probably more the rule.
In Duluth you will find an extremely eclectic business community ranging from locally owned small businesses to larger businesses with reach far outside Duluth. Like many communities across the nation, especially those who attract seasonal visitors, Duluth loves their locals; in fact a website Duluthloveslocals.com exists just to boast and promote local businesses and how they work to progress the “Duluth culture.”
One of the prime reasons Duluth boasts trading with their local businesses is the dollars spent there normally stay in the city unlike many larger “chain” businesses where the money is three times more likely to move out of the local community. When you have a city with such attraction it is logical that businesses should support that unique flavor.
According to a retail study contracted by the City of Duluth the following accolades have been written about this unique city:
· Best Place to Live (Outside Magazine) June 2014
· One of 6 Best Vacation Destinations to help your work (Forbes)
· One of “The Best Places for Business and Careers 2013” (Forbes Magazine)
· Top Port City (Railway Industrial Clearance Association (RICA)) 2011
· Top 5 Small City for Livability (Money Magazine) 2010
Considering these mentions, it makes sense for Duluth to be a city that thrives on uniqueness and catering to the individual who is looking for alternatives to normal “large box” options. Tourists want to visit businesses that reflect the city and the region, and locals need to support these businesses with the same vigor ensuring the local business economy remains a strong and vital component in Duluth’s economic success.
Not only does supporting Duluth local businesses bring in tourism and better our local economy, but it also serves as an opportunity for low-wage families to move into the middle class by encouraging entrepreneurship. It gives the people of Duluth a chance to be innovative and bring about new ideas to the community. It’s a full circle of helping out those who want to start their own business, and at the same time they help out the community by contributing to a strong local economy. They create more jobs and in many sectors they actually provide better wages and benefits than chains do.
Ingrid Hornibrook, who works for the business development department for the city of Duluth, said that, “Supporting local businesses helps the entire local economy. When a shopper buys local, they are helping their neighbor send their child to college. Buying local also creates jobs in our city and dollars in our community.”
By supporting local businesses we support our community allowing for more people to expand their success and opportunities. This is the sense of community that we want to build on and encourage.
I had the opportunity to speak with Lucie B Amundsen, the co-owner of Locally Laid Eggs — a farm that provides pasture-raised eggs in Minnesota, Iowa, and Indiana. She gave a great example of why shopping at local businesses is a much more personal and caring experience and environment.
“I get my glasses at Blink in Downtown,” said Amundsen, “I liked their story and went there.”
Blink is ran by two guys who worked for a chain optometry store. They were tired of selling poorly-made glasses so they started their own business.
A few weeks ago, Amundsen broke her glasses an hour before having to give a big presentation.
“I ran in and they immediately dropped what they were doing saying, ‘Lucie! What happened? Don’t worry,
we’ve got this.’”
They took Lucie’s old lenses and popped them into a loaner frame for her.
“I got out my debit card and they waved it off saying I could pay them when my new frame came in. I don’t think that would have happened with a big chain store. In short, it’s an opportunity to create real relationships and that makes life a lot better.”
If we want to create a more sustainable, diverse, livable, and economical community, then we must put large value on shopping local and supporting and creating small businesses in Duluth.
So the next time you want a piece of art, a cup of coffee, or just plain good conversation about a very unique area — buy local and support those who are the foundation of Duluth’s success.