How much difference does a dollar really make these days? Maybe more than you think.
Take Greenville – we’re fortunate to live in such a thriving city that’s earned well-deserved national recognition as being a true gem of the Southeast. Now granted, part of that is because of our geographic location, and since that’s priceless, where does your buck fit it?
Think about taking a stroll along Main Street, or antiquing in Travelers Rest, or finding the perfect Christmas gifts in the shops along the Augusta Road business district. What if those businesses didn’t have local support? Would Main Street be as warm and inviting without as many occupied storefronts? Would there be The Shops at Greenridge? Would Greenville be the same city we treasure now?
There’s no denying the convenience of the internet – it is, after all, in your phone, and your phone’s in your pocket or purse (or more likely, your hand) right now. But about that buck: For every dollar you spend in a Greenville business, a whopping 75 cents stays right here in Greenville. Even if you’re shopping at a Woodruff Road big box (and we all do, right?), 35 cents of every buck you spend stays local. In either case, that’s cash that flows through local employees, managers and owners and into other local businesses like grocery stores and gas stations. It buys cars from local dealerships. It buys homes constructed by local builders. It is our economic life blood. If Upstate consumers pivot $20 a week away for a year from online or a big box store to a locally owned store that would in increase the local Upstate economy by $300 million.
Compare that scenario to this: For every dollar you spend with non-local online businesses, only one cent remains in the local economy. One penny, vs. the 99 that won’t stay here. So in the bigger picture, what’s your buck worth online vs. locally – what’s it worth to you?
But we all value convenience, and the internet does make it easy to find deals. Fortunately, the internet is an open playing field, and there are ways that local businesses can participate. Take Yelp – which has become successful because it’s all about local food and local folks’ opinions. And while Yelp probably takes a lot of our bucks home to San Francisco, the company also understands and believes in the value of local businesses, to the point that Yelp even provides training to help local small businesses learn how to make the most of social media.
That type of help is critical, because while the internet is open to all, it isn’t always cheap or easy. In truth, there’s no shortage of barriers that keep small businesses from taking full advantage of the internet’s power. For a business owner, joining the online world represents a substantial investment, often with seemingly few tangible results.
There’s now another way you can use the internet to easily find what you’re looking for, right here in the Greenville area. Locally Epic, which is a local startup, works to connect local shoppers and businesses, thereby combining the convenience and power of the internet with the value of shopping locally. Consumers can now access a mobile-friendly online platform to find local offers and promotions from a wide range of businesses in real time, while business owners can effectively reach new audiences. Think about it: As much fun as exploring quaint shops can be, more often than not, you’re probably looking for the best price on a specific item, or the best way to solve a certain need. And you’re probably on a tight schedule. At times like these, you can now connect with the best solution right here, right now. That’s true convenience.
Locally Epic is also working to create ways for small business to get noticed. You’ve probably downloaded an app or two that promise local bargains, but these usually provide pre-selected “deals” that rarely coincide with your needs. In the long run, a lot of people wind up deleting these apps from their phones, which impacts the small, local businesses that don’t have the resources to keep investing in new apps to meet market needs. Now local companies can share one app, and by creating value for consumers and businesses alike, that app is more likely to get used – not purged.
And “value” takes us back to those concepts of quality of life, being fortunate enough to live in the Upstate, and that buck that I hope is still burning a hole in your pocket. It’s your buck, and it’s your choice, but before you spend it, I do hope you’ll consider that every dollar you spend represents your opportunity to have a positive economic impact on our region and the Greenville lifestyle we’ve come to enjoy and, yes — value.