San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

May 12th, 2008
Why shop locally

Every time you make a purchase, you’re exercising power of choice. There are lots of places where you can choose to spend your money… at merchants in San Marcos, in the “big cities” down the road, even through mail order catalogs or on the Internet. But have you ever stopped to think about the real impact of dollars spent locally, compared to those spent out of the area?

The choice is yours. You have the power to strengthen and enrich your community.


When you shop in San Marcos, your money re-circulates in our local economy. Every dollar spent in San Marcos multiplies itself several times in impact to the local economy, as that dollar moves from person to person. A dollar spent in a local restaurant, for example, becomes income for a restaurant employee. When that employee buys groceries, the dollar become income for the grocer, who in turn may spend it to buy clothing or office supplies, or even a new car – in each case, becoming income for other area businesses and residents. Experts say that every dollar spent locally turns over within the community an average of seven times. So every $100 spent here at home is actually worth $700 or more to the local economy – and that’s good news for all of us!

Our local businesses, both independents and chains, raise the standard of living in our community. Especially when they take their profits and buy products and services from other local businesses, thus creating more and more tax revenues needed for the community to thrive. Those sales tax dollars go back to our city government and can be used to fund local streets, parks, schools, fire and police protection and to fund economic development efforts. Our local businesses also donate to local charities including churches, softball leagues, arts, cultural and historical events and projects.

Especially important to the community are our independent local businesses – they are unique enterprises that contribute to the character of our community by offering a more diverse selections of goods and services. In today’s competitive marketplace we all need to make a special effort to frequent them. They bring charm to the local community – a charm missing in newer communities with shiny strip centers and no local flavor. Independent businesses provide meaningful service with a personal touch. It really does matter to them that you are satisfied and will come back again.

Making the decision to BUY LOCAL is a personal commitment to reinvest your purchasing dollars into your own community. A mere 5% shift in purchases back to our local community would have the same impact as bringing a new industry to the area. We are talking about millions of dollars of local impact. It starts with our own commitment to support our San Marcos businesses. And chamber member businesses are often the very ones that are most supportive of the local community. Look for the chamber plaque where you do business!

  • Make the decision to find and patronize businesses located in San Marcos, wherever possible.
  • Instead of driving out of town to go to dinner when you want a unique or special experience – consider dining at a local restaurant and treat yourself to a personal dining experience. Sometimes we simply overlook what we have right here in our own backyard!
  • When you shop online with out-of-state companies, it doesn’t contribute a dime to our local economy. So check for chamber members who offer the same products, and some even deliver.
  • Use our Chamber Directory to locate businesses offering specific goods or services, or you can view a complete list of Chamber member businesses and the categories in which they are listed on our website at
  • Encourage your associates, family, and friends to buy locally. You have the power to make a difference!

By Phyllis Snodgrass
President – Chamber of Commerce

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0 thoughts on “Why shop locally

  1. Good article and (as noted) buying local helps the local economy regardless of whether it is with a locally owned and operated business (top choice) or the local presence of a (regional or national) chain. I try to spend my business and personal dollars here in the local community as much as possible.

  2. “I’ve seen a great response from the community and know that they buying local is very important to my clients”

  3. Excellent article Phyllis. This is a very provocative argument for the extension of bar hours which, in my mind, is one area that could boost the local economy significantly.

  4. Steve I would argue that even though the big blue box store has local employees, shopping there doesn’t really help the local economy. First, the profits are shipped off to… say, Arkansas. Second, the jobs created are at the expense of higher paying jobs, which actually takes more money out of our economy. Third, with less disposable income, the employees have less money to spend with other vendors in town.

    I agree with Phyllis’ assertion that “it doesn’t contribute a dime to our local economy.” But, I would take it further and say that shopping at these behomeths actually removes money from our economy.

  5. I totally agree with Chris on this. There is a great DVD documentary available at the library on Walmart. Everyone should be required to watch it to see what you are supporting when you shop there.
    I came to San Marcos pre-Wally world and it was sad to watch all of the local businesses die because of it.
    Phillis said to exercise our “power of choice”, I agree. I say that money is a form of power— be careful who you give your power to.

  6. Well, I live to be disagreeable, so, I’ll disagree.

    I’d say that in the last 5 years, I’ve spent less than $100 at Wal-Mart. Of course, I do shop at Target, Best Buy, Amazon, HEB, an awful lot of chains at the Outlet Mall, etc.

    Those all meet the same “non-local behemoth” definition as Wal-Mart, even if HEB is headquartered in San Antonio.

    What’s more, I really have to wonder what the standard of living would be for many of our students and poorer residents (and there are plenty of them), if there were not places like Wal-Mart for them to shop.

    This is even more significant, now that Wal-Mart offers $4 generic prescriptions and appears to be aggressively expanding that program.

    We eat at the local restaurants and we shop at nearly-local meat markets and local produce stores. We bought Amy’s bike at a local shop and sent several other people over to do the same. We shop locally when it makes sense and when it works, even if we have to pay a little more.

    I generally try to buy as much in San Marcos as I can, to keep the sales tax local (which is nothing to sneeze at).

    I am not going to begrudge Wal-Mart for providing goods and services to many people in San Marcos who need to save money where they can. I also question the idea of it bringing no money to the local economy. The large stores in San Marcos attract shoppers from well outside our city limits and those shoppers probably stop for lunch occasionally, or get a tank of gas, etc.

    Now, an interesting idea that I have seen in some other towns is local currency, which is only good at participating businesses within the city limits. People can buy a local dollar for 90 cents or something like that and it circulates through the local economy many, many times.

    Now there’s an interesting idea, if anyone wants to try to push that through. I don’t remember the particulars, but there is information out there.

  7. Bill McKibben talks about local currency in his latest book, “Deep Economy” (an amazing book with some profound insights and clear action plans for communities).

  8. I’ll check that out.

    I found some links, but can’t seem to get them posted here. You can Google “town prints own currency” and find information on several towns that have done this.

  9. The other piece of this puzzle is sales tax, which I mentioned earlier.

    Sales tax is not an abstract concept like money spent locally recirculating through the economy. Sales tax is very tangible and we received $1.6 million in sales tax last month, compared to $274,000 for Buda and $223,000 for Kyle. In fact, 76% of the sales tax generated for Hays County went to San Marcos.

    Based on the 2006/2007 budget, it appears that sales tax accounted for 45% of our revenue for the city. That’s 4x what we generate in property taxes.

    With sales tax accounting for such a significant portion of our budget, it becomes even more important to spend locally.

  10. 45%? WOW! I always heard that we should shop local and assumed that it was good idea. I had no idea it was this big. Even if I go on a roadtrip or something, I will buy my snacks and drinks here before I go.

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