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Why Support Local Businesses


Buying locally is good for our Economy, Environment, and Community.


Read Berkeley Independents,

an article by Executive Director Lawrence Grown, written for Berkeley-Built Magazine.

Buying Locally . . . more fun with unique, personalized offerings. You get to know your merchants, who select their wares with the needs and tastes of the local community in mind. You get personal attention. You feel connected. Local, independent businesses know our local market and are more responsive to our local needs. Customers are merchants' friends and neighbors.

...keeps dollars in our economy. Spending locally ensures that our sales taxes are reinvested right here in our community. Of every $100 spent at an independently owned Berkeley store, $68 stays in the community. That makes our city more economically resilient!

...ensures our city is unique and a destination. Homegrown businesses makes us special and gives us a strong sense of place and love for our city. The more interesting we are as a community, the more we attract visitors, which benefits everyone. more environmentally friendly. Buying locally often means you can walk and bike to shop, supporting conveniently located and accessible shops. You get products that are often better-made because our neighbors stand behind them. Some local merchants manufacture their products locally, supporting local labor and requiring less shipping to get those products to you.

...strengthens our community. Local businesses donate money back into the community at more than twice the rate of national chains.  They have a vested interest in their own community. They are also uniquely prepared to take on challenges of the twenty-first century with an agility and relationship-based approach others lack.

...leverages local expertise. Independent business owners are passionate about what they do. Why not take advantage of their deep knowledge?

To find what you need from a local business, see our directory.


Buy Local Berkeley Cartoon

A great little cartoon about the power of buying local and how it really does improve your city!

Check out our Indie Biz campaign resources page.

Buy Local Studies

Locally-owned businesses are more likely to recirculate your purchase dollars into payments to other local suppliers. Economists call this a “multiplier effect,” because it steers more jobs and sales-tax revenue into our own community. Several recent studies have found the multiplier benefits of local businesses to be up to three times those of non-local businesses.


A recent retail diversity study of San Francisco and three Peninsula cities found that purchasing from locally owned stores created about 70% more local jobs, an 67% more overall local income, per dollar spent. The authors concluded that by shifting just 10% of purchases to local businesses, consumers would add nearly 1,300 new jobs and $200 million in economic activity to the cities studied.


But it's not just here in the Bay Area that studies conclude that buying from locally owned independent businesses makes a difference. Research around the country has generated similar results.

San Francisco 

The San Francisco Retail Diversity Study,

May 2007, by Civic Economics


Key findings:

A slight shift in San Francisco consumer purchasing behavior - diverting just 10% of purchases from national chain stores to locally owned businesses - would, each year, create 1,300 new jobs and yield nearly $200 million in incremental economic activity.


The reverse is also true - a 10% shift away from local merchants would have a negative impact of equal but opposite magnitude.

Austin, Texas

Economic Impact Analysis: Local Merchants vs. Chain Retailers, December 2002, by Civic Economics, Austin IBA


Key finding:

For every $100 in consumer spending at a national chain bookstore in Austin, Texas, the local economic impact was $13. The same amount spent at locally based bookstores yielded $45, or more than three times the local economic impact.

Chicago, Illinois 

Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, October 2004, by Civic Economics

This study was designed to evaluate the economic role played by the independent businesses of this dynamic district on Chicago's North Side.


Key findings:

Every $100 spent with a local firm leaves $68 in the Chicago economy; $100 spent at a chain store leaves $43 in Chicago.


For every square foot occupied by a local firm, the local economic impact is $179, versus $105 for a chain store.

Santa Fe, New Mexico 

Santa Fe Independent Business Report,

November 2003, by Angelou Economics

Key findings

Small businesses account for 90 percent of all businesses in Santa Fe and employ 30 percent of all private sector workers. Dollars spent at independent businesses deliver twice the economic impact of those spent at national chains.However, national chains in Santa Fe are growing faster than independents - 2.5 times faster - and bring new competition and pressure to the small business community.

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