A boutique specializing in one-of-a-kind fashion, a family-run restaurant where the matriarch works in the kitchen cooking up her special recipes, and a salon where your stylist knows exactly the best shade for the highlights in your hair. What do all these places have in common? They are perfect examples of the types of local businesses that make a community unique.

At Grossmont Center, we recognize the value that our local tenants bring to La Mesa. We are a premier destination for shopping, dining, entertainment, and more precisely because we have a dedicated group of entrepreneurs who go above and beyond in providing high-quality goods and services to their customers. These businesses are the backbone of the Center, and of our city.

Small Business is Big Business

When you think of a small business, a quaint mom-and-pop shop may come to mind. However, these local, independent businesses are economic powerhouses.

According to the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there were 27.9 million independent businesses (with less than 500 employees) in 2010. That impressive number translates into significant economic advantages. For instance, Independent We Stand, a coalition of businesses promoting the “shop local” message across America, states that municipal economies get $179 for every square foot of real estate occupied by a local business. Compare that to the $105 generated per square foot by a chain retailer. At Grossmont Center alone, we contribute 25% of La Mesa’s sales tax revenue, and our local tenants are a huge part of the engine driving that. This contribution is vitally important because cities use sales tax revenue money to help fund major municipal maintenance and improvement projects. Freshly paved roads, new playground equipment—these are the types of wonderful civic projects that benefit from a healthy local economy. By the way, sales tax revenue is also important for state as well as local economies. In 2015, state and local governments in the United States reaped a whopping $545 million in sales tax combined, according to the Urban Institute.

Shopping local contributes more than just dollars to a community. Small businesses are incredible job creators—Independent We Stand states that these businesses employ 77 million people in the United States. In fact, local businesses are tried and true job providers, supplying 65% of all net new jobs created during the past 17 years, according to Independent We Stand. More jobs mean more money flowing into a community.

That is one reason why communities with a vibrant contingent of local businesses generally thrive. Another reason: When cities host strong independent businesses, in a location such as Grossmont Center, the surrounding neighborhoods see an increase in home values—about 50% more, on average, compared to other neighborhoods. So it is no surprise that Independent We Stand says 89% of American consumers recognize the benefits that small businesses bring to their communities.

Why It Is Important to Shop Local

There are other reasons why it is good to shop local, ones where the value is incalculable. Unique, independent businesses add charm and character to a community. A city seems to stand out more when there is an active local business community. Because these proprietors offer unique goods and services, they are a draw to people who want something different from the norm big box stores have to offer.

Often, these entrepreneurs live in the community—they may even live on your street! That leads to special relationships developing between owners and customers. As businesspeople get to know their patrons better, it often leads to an even higher, more personalized level of customer service. For instance, a boutique owner calls a customer when a dress comes in that she might like, based on how well the owner knows her taste. Perhaps a jeweler changes a watch battery for free after fixing a broken band. Or a restaurateur sends over a celebratory drink for a couple that commemorates their anniversary with a special meal every year. As owners get to know their clientele, they can tailor inventory or services to meet customer demand. That in turn can lead to more happy customers—and more money rolling in for the community!

Because local business owners are highly attuned to the needs to the community, they are often very involved in what goes on there. A restaurant may sponsor a youth sports team or a shop may host a toy drive for needy kids. At Grossmont Center, our local tenants are enthusiastic participants in our many community-wide events.

Finally, a rising tide lifts all boats. When local businesses are successful, it encourages more entrepreneurs to open stores and restaurants in the neighborhood. More shopping and dining choices draw more customers, and more customers attract more businesses to serve them. These shops can also create opportunities for other kinds of independent entrepreneurs—a boutique may carry necklaces designed by a local jeweler or a restaurant could add a neighborhood brewery’s craft beer to its menu. These connections form the fabric of the community.

Grossmont Center supports its independent businesses for all of these wonderful reasons. We are proud of our tenant community and what these entrepreneurs add to La Mesa—their contributions are priceless. You can experience it for yourself when you buy local and come to Grossmont Center where anyone can be a part of the thriving community.

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