ELMHURST – When it comes to shopping, nothing is better than getting a great deal, or is it?
According to Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO John Quigley, sometimes it can be better to shop local.
On Nov. 26, people can support their community by participating in Small Business Saturday, a shopping holiday that celebrates the importance of small businesses to the economy of a community.
Created in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday is meant as the counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are shopping campaigns that feature big-box retail and e-commerce, respectively.
“Small business is the life blood of the American economy,” Quigley said. “That’s where job growth comes from, and the money people spend in small businesses tends to stay in the community longer.”
Small businesses generate 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big-box retailers, he said. They also do more of their business locally, hire locally and sponsor local charities, clubs and organizations.
“I understand the lure of Black Friday and of getting the best deal you can get,” Quigley said. “But these [business owners] are your friends and neighbors; they are the people who regularly give donations to charities and non-for-profit endeavors in the community."
Many small businesses struggle to get off the ground because they tend to be under funded and can’t access the cost benefits that large businesses get. Quigley said many companies have had to find a niche that would differentiate them from corporate competitors. Some have found they can be profitable by offering personalized, quality service that larger enterprises can’t emulate.
As for online shopping, Quigley said he thinks it is unfair e-commerce businesses don’t have to pay taxes.
“We have long been proponents that online shopping should be taxed because it is unfair to brick-and-mortar businesses,” Quigley said. “They pay a lease, open their doors most days, they make an investment in their community and they have to pay property and sales tax.”
He said people aren’t really buying online because they save on tax, but because it is convenient not to leave their home. This puts small businesses in a double disadvantage since people have a double incentive to shop online.
“What people don’t realize is that although they may be saving money now, in the long run they could be paying more in property taxes since it’s offset by sales tax,” Quigley said. “A good local economy is good for everyone.”