My Turn: Good reasons to be against big boxes | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Good reasons to be against big boxes

John Eaton and Kaitlin Backlund
My Turn

The economic benefits of box stores are an illusion: the big box is simply the end of a huge pipe that sucks money out of our town and sends it to A remote corporate headquarters.

It is disappointing to see the Editor of our small town newspaper succumb to the siren call of big boxes (The fear of big boxes, Dec. 22.)

Mountain Area Preservation Foundation has been on the forefront of keeping box stores out of Truckee for more than 20 years. Back in 1987, when a K-Mart was proposed for one of the town’s entrances, locals from a broad sector of the Truckee community gathered together to halt the project and#8212; and for good reason. Box stores extract the vitality from small towns like Truckee.

Dollars spent in locally-owned businesses have three times the impact on our community as dollars spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create more local jobs, fund more community services through sales tax and contribute to the sustainability of our community.

Here are 10 reasons to shop locally. (Adapted from Stacy Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

1. Protect local character and prosperity. By choosing to support locally owned businesses, you help maintain Truckee’s authentic and distinctive small town character.

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2. Community well-being. Locally owned businesses build a strong community by linking neighbors, and by contributing more to local causes.

3. Local decision making. Local ownership means that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

4. Keeping dollars in the local economy: Your dollars spent in locally-owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains.

5. Job and wages: Locally-owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

6. Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

7. Public benefits and costs. Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

8. Environmental sustainability. Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable downtowns-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

9. Competition. A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

10. Product diversity. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

Will locals still go to Reno to do some of their shopping even if they believe in supporting local businesses? The answer is probably yes, but that will always be the case. The Town of Truckee is small and distinctive compared to the City of Reno and MAPF aims to keep it that way.

Kaitlin Backlund, Executive Director, and John Eaton, Board President, are with the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation.