With the increase in online shopping, Tuscaloosa leaders are reminding residents of the importance of keeping their dollars local this holiday season.
The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox came together this week at Downtown Tuscaloosa retailer Lou & Company, to talk not only about shopping locally, but also the importance of supporting small businesses.
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Page said shopping locally provides sales taxes that fund local services, such as police and fire protection and public schools. He also said these businesses provide jobs and support other local businesses.
"For every $100 spent, 68 of those dollars are recirculated into the community," Page said. "And that cannot be said for most online retailers. And local retailers and local small businesses are significantly more likely to use local vendors for construction, for banking, and for all the other essential services that businesses need."
According to Mayor Walt Maddox, 68 percent of Tuscaloosa's general fund revenue comes from gross sales in the local economy. He also talked about his City's focus on creating an experienced-based economy, that is not so dependent on retail expenditures. However, Maddox said shopping at a small, local retailer fits into that experience economy.
"One of the things that's going to stay Amazon-proof, you might say, are shops like this," Maddox said, referring to Lou & Company. "Niche shops that provide a great customer service, for unique items, that you can't digitalize, and also give you an experience."
Lou & Company Owner Sydney Powers also spoke about what a business like hers has to offer shoppers.
"It is special to find something that is made locally, or by a local artist," Powers said. "It's more meaningful. It's the experience of giving a gift that means a little bit more."
Page also referenced statistics that show the great majority of U.S. businesses are small businesses. He said about half of the U.S. workforce is employed by small businesses.
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