May 07 2007
Independent booksellers have long
argued that shopping at locally owned stores is
important to support the economic health of a region;
now a report supports thus belief. "The San Francisco
Retail Diversity Study," released last week, showed that
independent bookstores contributed $54 million back into
the San Francisco area, while chain stores and Internet
booksellers contributed back $8 million a year.
The two-year study was commissioned by the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Alliance with support from the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and the American Booksellers Association.
The survey found that independent bookstores had 55% share of the book market in San Francisco, much higher than the national average of ~10%. One of the most interesting findings was the impact of consumers shifting just 10% of their spending to the local community. According to the study, if consumers in the San Francisco area redirected their spending on books by 10% from chain and Internet book retailers to locally owned bookstores, the increased economic output in the form of such things as taxes and wages would be more than $3.7 million annually, and 25 new bookselling jobs would be produced. Similar effects were seen in other retail areas including toys, sporting goods and dining.
Neal Sofman, one of the former owners of A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books and current owner of the Bookshop West Portal, said it all comes down to self-interest. "When you tell people that if you don't shop local first, then [you] are ruining [your] tax base, they get that," said Sofman.
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