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Naperville
Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Local Pulse – Small business fuel local economy

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Over the last 18 months we’ve all become experts at Internet shopping. From groceries, to gifts, clothes, and home décor, it’s easy to scroll online and click our way to happiness. With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s important to remember one of the key reasons why we all love Naperville. Our downtown shopping district is second to none.

But what happens to these local one-of-a-kind businesses that add distinct character to our town if people choose the convenience of shopping from home over patronizing their friends’ and neighbors’ businesses? The answer is obvious. The number of Amazon vans clogging our streets will grow as the uniqueness of our town slowly slips away.

The entrepreneurs who launch small businesses fuel our local and state economy. They provide jobs with good wages to people who live here, and they reinvest in their community, which benefits us all. Small business owners help build strong and vibrant communities, and have a vested interest that is absent from online retailers or even the big box stores. These business owners work incredibly hard to provide goods and services that the people of Naperville value, and they are the ones who will go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.

Small businesses suffered enormous losses during last year’s COVID shutdown, with an estimated 1/3 of all Illinois small businesses closing their doors forever during the height of the pandemic. Unfortunately, in-store business has not bounced back with the vigor our small business owners had hoped for. The public, accustomed to the ease of click-and-buy online purchases, have been slow to return to support them.

Compared to large chain stores, locally-owned businesses recycle a much larger percentage of their revenue back into the local community. When they expand, or add new jobs, the whole community benefits. And we cannot ignore the how a multitude of small businesses- each with its own unique niche- guarantees a broad range of products that are sold. This increased diversity of local business inventory is the very reason people from Naperville and beyond travel to our downtown area.

This holiday season, resist the urge to default to Amazon for your shopping. Instead, come back to Naperville’s downtown area and refamiliarize yourself with the small mom and pop stores that make our community so special. For when you shop local, it’s not a nameless, faceless corporate giant you’re helping. It’s your friend, it’s your neighbor, or it’s your neighbor’s friend. Please remember to shop local.

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Grant Wehrli
Grant Wehrli is a lifelong Naperville Resident and former Representative in the Illinois House of Representatives and Naperville City Councilman.

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