By Monica Pierce
The concept of shopping local and the benefits it brings to a city, is not new. But shopping locally has gone from being a good idea to being imperative, as our economy recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.
“We’ve always encouraged Eagle residents to shop locally, even before the pandemic,” remarks Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce, sitting six feet away from me in the chambers of Eagle City Hall. “Not only is it the right thing to do to support the livelihoods of our neighbors but it makes so much economic sense,” Mayor Pierce adds.
According to The Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, for every $100 spent within Eagle, $68 is recirculated back into the city. That number drops to $43 when spent at franchises and national chains as opposed to locally owned businesses.
The income you generate when you shop at local businesses is returned to the community via what’s known as the Multiplier Effect. The wages a business pays its employees are further circulated within the community when those employees spend those earnings, and local taxes the business pays are reinvested into the city via improvement projects, infrastructure, funding for emergency services, and more. Even if prices at a locally owned business are slightly higher than those at a national chain, the additional cost is ultimately returned via the Multiplier Effect.
Also, as local businesses succeed, they hire more employees, boosting the city’s employment which has many additional positive effects on the community.
Furthermore, shopping locally has environmental benefits. Rather than driving to Meridian or downtown Boise, staying in Eagle saves gas and reduces your impact on the environment, not to mention saves you time and stress from traffic.
For all of these reasons, the benefits of shopping locally are obvious. So why, then, do we have to keep reminding ourselves to do it?
“It’s kind of a habit we have to build up,” says Mayor Pierce. “When we have a need or a desire to shop for something or to obtain some kind of service, we tend to first consider selection or big-name brands. If we instead start to first consider what is available locally, we will find that most of what we’re looking for is actually available right here in Eagle.”
A key to finding what we need here in Eagle is remembering that Eagle is more than just the downtown restaurants, shops, and businesses along the one mile stretch of State Street. As Mayor Pierce describes, there are many “pockets” of businesses scattered within our city limits.
From The Tavern Bar & Grille at Eagle Island Marketplace and its many neighbors around the Fred Meyer shopping center- to The Luxe Reel Theater sharing space with Red Bench Pizza and others in the Bridges at Lakemoor- to Eagle Marketplace just up the hill which, among other local favorites is home to Fiesta Guadalajara, Eagle Fitness and The NEST home and garden store- to the Rivershore area with Roost Gifts and Eagle Rivershore Dental, and across Eagle Road to Bardanay, The Griddle, and all of the professional offices along Riverside Drive- to Eagle Island Crossing with Dickey’s BBQ and Panache Salon & Spa- all the way to the east side of town at Eagle Promenade with various businesses alongside the Home Depot and Winco, and up Highway 55 to the newer Hill Road Crossing which is home to local favorite, Coffee and Supply Co. These numerous “pockets” are all Eagle. They all return $43 to $68 back into the Eagle community for every $100 you spend with them.
In addition to the geographic diversity of Eagle businesses, Mayor Pierce adds that shopping local includes more than just the retail and food and beverage industries. Personal and professional services like dentists and chiropractors as well as CPAs and insurance agencies, also contribute to the economic strength of our city.
One way the City of Eagle is raising awareness of these various Eagle businesses is by hosting a special event on July 11. As is traditionally done for Eagle Fun Days, a portion of downtown will be closed off and numerous vendors from all over Eagle will be on site to share their products and services with the community.
But even as businesses begin to reopen in line with Governor Little’s Idaho Rebounds staged plan, some people feel unsure about the safety of entering a business at all, regardless of what city it’s in.
To support consumers’ varying feelings of readiness, Eagle business owners are following the health and safety practices recommended by the CDC such as social distancing practices and preventative measures like face coverings. As part of the reopening plan, business owners can sign a pledge that confirms their commitment to follow these guidelines and protocols. Upon pledging, they will receive posters to display in their place of business. When you see these posters, you can be assured that those businesses have your health and safety in mind and they are fully adhering to each stage of the Idaho Rebounds plan.
Certain businesses are also maintaining practices they began earlier this year in response to the unexpected stay-home order, such as offering online ordering and curb-side pickup. They are also increasing communication and engagement with customers through tools like email newsletters and social media, so they can remain in touch and keep customers informed, even at a distance.
Whenever we each feel ready to shop and procure services again, it will benefit us to do so within Eagle.
“The way I think about it,” reflects Mayor Pierce, “is that we’re taking the practice we’ve all been following of staying home with our families and we’re now extending that to our Eagle community which, in many ways, is our broader family.”
When asked about the city’s preparation for a potential “second wave” of COVID-19 cases, Mayor Pierce had a salient perspective.
“I’m confident that with everyone practicing individual responsibility, a second wave will be very unlikely. But if it does happen, we are more prepared now. As individuals and as businesses, we know what we need to do to keep each other safe and how we can keep businesses going.”
Even though the benefits of shopping locally have been well understood for a long time, we tend to be lackadaisical about doing so. But now is the time to step up our effort and be proactive about thinking Eagle first. Bringing business to our own community will support our neighbors and strengthen our city during this very crucial time.
To learn how you can support local Eagle businesses, visit eatshopeagle.com and follow Eat Shop Eagle on Facebook for information about special events. Help spread the word by using #eatshopeagle on social media.