Just beyond the Halloween decor in a number of retail stores, a glimpse of Christmas has appeared. With only eight Saturdays until Christmas, one small business owner is encouraging consumers to shop local.
MaKenzi Vonk, who owns Reflections Beauty and co-owns Top Notch Fireworks with her husband Brandon, has taken to social media to remind her friends and followers to support small businesses as they begin their holiday shopping.
“Being a business owner, I see the direct impact that it makes when I have people coming through my door,” said Vonk.
According to the Civic Economics Study in Grand Rapids, of every $100 spent at a local small business, $68 stays in the local economy. For every $100 spent at a large business, more than half leaves the community and only $43 stays in the local economy.
“When you spend your money with me, I put it back into the community. I live here, it goes to other places and it’s just nice to see the chain reaction that happens when you support local. I’m not saying you can’t go to Wal-Mart, ... but, every once in awhile, even just your daily coffee, makes a big difference,” said Vonk.
As a business owner and advocate of small-town living, Vonk said she’s concerned about the future of the local economy if locally owned businesses are not supported.
“So many corporate things come in to small towns and just railroad those mom and pop shops out. It’s sad to see ... it just changes the whole atmosphere of the whole community,” she said.
Vonk said she started her Christmas shopping this month because she often finds gifts that remind her of someone she wants to buy for and is continually surprised by what she finds in town.
“I just went to Create Creston and bought honey, so I’m really excited to try that,” said Vonk. “With Java J’s, anytime I need anything Hallmark, ... it’s just nice to have that option back.”
Vonk said finding Hallmark ornaments at Java J’s reminded her of her childhood.
“That’s something my mom always did when I was a little girl ... we would go to Hallmark and we got Hallmark ornaments – one every year that went on the tree,” she said.
Vonk said she’s impressed with the variety of clothing options starting to pop up in town with Hazel Marie’s, Lori’s Boutique and the extended sizing now offered at The Wishing Well for adults, plus sizes, tweens, children and infants.
“With Hazel Marie’s, I like that it’s trendy, boutique styles that you think you only see on Instagram or Facebook, but it’s right here in town,” said Vonk.
Darlene Riley, owner of The Wishing Well, said she values the connectedness she has with her customers.
“With shopping small businesses, you get a personal contact with the person they’re buying from,” said Riley. “We try to have the knowledge to go along with it. And, money spent in our community helps the schools and it helps keep everything going.”
While supporting small, locally owned businesses contribute to local tax revenue that directly support the community, there are other benefits to shopping local as well.
“You hear, it’s too expensive. In some cases that might be true, but when you factor in cost... I know what a day of going to Des Moines is like for me. You’ve got to eat, gas, plus what whatever I went there for,” said Vonk. “It turns out being two or three times more expensive than what I could’ve done here in town.”