Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center Director Christine Kriz knows the math, and it supports shopping at locally owned stores and restaurants.

For every $100 spent at a local establishment, an average of $73 will stay in the local economy, Kriz said. For every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, about $43 on average stays in that same local economy.

“The multiplier effect created by shopping locally generates lasting impact on the prosperity of local organizations and residents,” Kriz said. “Local spending ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested in your community, which may lead to better schools, city services, infrastructure, and more.”

Shopping locally, local commerce leaders agreed, is a good way to support local athletic programs and nonprofit organizations. It also puts money into the hands of local residents who, in turn, spend money at other local establishments.

A Michigan State University study pointed out that shopping local helps to raise the overall level of economic activity, pays more salaries and helps build the local tax base.

The study concluded that locally owned business around the country surpass chain stores and restaurants in the amount of wages and benefits paid to local residents, profits earned by local owners, the purchase of local goods and services for internal use and contributions to local nonprofit organizations.

“That’s a tremendous benefit of shopping local,” said Sharon Baroncelli, president of the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce.

Local communities are full of small businesses, and new ones pop up every year.

Providing more options for consumers can lead to more shoppers getting out of the house and browsing local shops instead of ordering online from bigger stores. Those businesses can also have great economic impacts on a community, which includes attracting other businesses and organizations and even helping spur educational growth.

“The Top of Virginia Regional Chamber is comprised of roughly 85% small businesses. One thing that is neat is the longevity of some of those businesses such as Wilkins’ Shoe Center and Solenberger’s,” said Kory Campbell, director of marketing and communications for the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber. “[Wilkins’ Shoe Center owner] Jimmy Wilkins sat down with me before the Greater Good Awards and explained how the Chamber got started and then about bringing Shenandoah University to town. A group of small businesses were able to be responsible for bringing in higher education to the area and some of the amenities that entice large businesses.”

Small businesses oftentimes provide products that consumers can’t find anywhere else. They’re unique in both what they sell and even how they sell their products, as evidenced in the many alternative methods used to promote and sell products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those small businesses wind up making local communities known for something other than big box stores.

“The benefits of a thriving local independent business sector are not limited to economic benefits. Possibly equally important is that independent businesses define the community’s self-image and creates a sense pride for the people who live there,” the Michigan State study explained. “National chain retailers, on the other hand, can homogenize a community and reduce its element of uniqueness and originality. Many communities are choosing to take control of their own economic character by supporting unique one-of-a-kind local businesses.”

Many community leaders across the country have long been promoting small businesses as the backbone of the community, and the Northern Shenandoah Valley is no different.

“Our small businesses are the mainstay of our communities. Without businesses on Main Street, we don’t have a Main Street,” Baroncelli said. “You don’t have a vibrant economy or a vibrant community. They’re vital to a successful and strong community.”