There is a bit of a controversy brewing between two of the Buy Local organizations in Southern Maine.
According to the Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance (www.portlandbuylocal.org) for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 stays in the local economy, creating jobs and expanding the city’s tax base. For every $100 spent at a national chain or franchise store, only $14 remains in the community.
But in Biddeford Saco (www.biddefordsacobuylocal.org), they are taking a different approach to buy local. Leaders there recognize that big box stores do play an important role in the tax base and employ local people. They say if you are going to shop at a chain store, at least do it in your local community.
On the National Buy Local Now website (www.buylocalday.org) it says “Big box stores like Wal-Mart and the Gap are steamrolling their way into cities and towns throughout the country, pushing down wages and forcing small, local businesses to close because they can’t compete with these mega-companies’ predatory practices. But there’s something we can do! Let’s send a message that we support our hometown businesses and oppose the negative impacts of chain stores and big box stores on our communities.” It seems that the Portland Buy Local group’s beliefs are more aligned with the national organization than the Biddeford Saco one.
I am not sure what I think. I understand what the Portland group is saying, but I can also appreciate Biddeford Saco just trying to be realistic.