Mais Oui

Note to Self: Shop Local Why local vendors should be at the top of your list

by Cherry Fisher May

If you want to fully appreciate the virtues of shopping local, go no further than Guidry’s Hardware. I stopped one recent afternoon, parked right in front and popped in to buy cleaner for my icemaker, which they always have in stock — except that day. “Ms. May, we’ll have some more on Tuesday,” said manager Boo Trahan, “but if you need it today, run over to Meaders. It’s only three blocks away and they have it.” Customer happy. Problem solved.

Convenient parking. Ample, locally relevant inventory. High-quality merchandise. Competitive prices. Impeccable, personal service. Local color. Guidry’s is the epitome of what every shopping experience should be. Insert any local retailer’s name in this paragraph and you can replicate that experience all over town. But there’s so much more to the shop local story.

From hiring practices to purchasing preferences for business goods and services, it’s well documented that for every dollar of business, local companies re-spend more of that dollar locally than do non-local businesses. Numerous studies over many types of industries indicate that locally owned businesses best non-local counterparts as economic multipliers by two to four fold and are also more likely to contribute to local causes, have a lower environmental impact, offer greater job stability, require less infrastructure investment and preserve the unique, distinctive character of their communities.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Costco development that recently opened on Lafayette’s Southside, which introduced a shopping experience that feels more like Atlanta than Acadiana. And given the challenges of the recent economic downturn, it couldn’t have opened at a worse time for local restaurateurs and retailers, who are also feeling the impact of aggressive online shopping alternatives like Zulily.

We at IND Media founded the INDStyle Awards in part to advance the shop local story for Lafayette’s fashion retailers, and this year we have expanded it to a month-long promotion that will also benefit a variety of nonprofit organizations in town. Details will be announced soon. It will exemplify all the best reasons to keep it local, which has never been more important than now.