Just a few short weeks ago, we celebrated our nation’s independence—independence from one country across the Atlantic’s attempt to limit our abilities to hold public meetings, to speak our minds, to exercise our rational intellect to govern ourselves. This week, it’s still time to celebrate our independence…from national chains.
What is an “Independent Retailer”?
This is a democracy! We are independent consumers who have the right (and the luxury) of choosing from several shops when looking for clothes, food, computer services, auto repair, etc. (anything but cable TV, really). Our options are not limited to state-sponsored stores or franchises; in fact, we don’t even have any.
But the definition of an “independent retailer” isn’t related to the freedom of the buyers, but on the owners or organizers to run the business. Independent retailers are locally-owned stores and shops who are free from a corporate superstructure that dictates how the shop is to be operated and managed.
For instance, Quanz Advanced Auto Body is an independent retailer of automotive maintenance and collision repair services. Jiffy Lube, Pep Boys and Maaco are all national chains that provide automotive maintenance or collision repair services. Quanz decides what services it will offer, the prices for those services, warranty policies, training and certification requirements for technicians, etc. For national chains, those decisions are made by the corporate headquarters, and all stores are the same.
The Benefits of Doing Business with Independent Retailers
For some people, that all national chain stores are the same seems an obvious benefit. You know what you get no matter what location you patronize. But the convenience and (sometimes) bigger selection that national chains afford come at a price to the local economy.
Independent retailers stimulate the local economy:
- They hire local people to build the store—architects, contractors, etc.
- They hire local people in the shops
- They hire local people for services they need—accounting, computer maintenance, marketing/advertising, insurance brokers, lawyers, etc.
- Their taxes stay in the community to support schools, law enforcement, waste management, etc.
- They reinvest their money in the community, often through charitable contributions or sponsorships (national chains do this, too, but to a significantly lesser extent)
National chains, however, make money for the corporation. Taxes go to where the corporation is located.
Independent businesses respond to a need in the community, and they contribute to the character of a community. Because national chains are all the same, they do not add anything “distinctly Southwestern” or “quintessentially Albuquerque.”
Really, national chains, even supercenters and warehouses with multiple brands for every product, reduce diversity. The presence of national chains often displaces local jobs (if they create 100, it may be the same 100 people that lost their jobs at a competing mom-and-pop shop). When they muscle out independent retailers, you’re stuck with no alternatives. So, if you don’t like the selection, aren’t satisfied with the customer service or need a shop to work with some special circumstances, you have nowhere left to turn.
Think Local First
The advantages that independent retailers provide to local communities are real and worth saving…so there are organizations trying to help independent retailers survive and thrive in spite of competition from national chains. In New Mexico, the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce (NMGCC) sponsors the Think Local First program, which is designed to “build awareness within NM’s local communities about the economic, social and environmental advantages of buying from local businesses.”
Quanz Advanced Auto Body is a member of the NMGCC and is proud to serve the Westside Albuquerque and Rio Rancho communities. As an independent provider of auto collision repair and mechanical maintenance service, we strive not only to serve our customers, but to also serve the global community by going green.
Celebrate National Independent Retailers Week with us by exercising your freedom to choose a local, family-owned business to provide quality car care service!