As home-grown market leaders like Marshall Fields and Montgomery Ward vanish from the scene, local businesses in Chicago have become a source of pride. Chambers of Commerce have mounted preservation efforts for our indie employers similar to those seen in nature specials for endangered species. Big corporations have a bad reputation for sending their income overseas, bending tax laws to minimize their expenses, and bribing the government through SuperPACs and lobbying to expand their own influence.
There's a big push to keep Chicago dollars in the hands of small, family-owned and local businesses, rather than allowing the stream of currency to continue flowing towards big business. It's visible in many facets of shopping, from farmer's markets to Chicago-based independent record labels and the slow rise of independent gaming through efforts like the Humble Indie Bundle. Local deal-mongers like Chicago-based Groupon, review sites like Yelp and online mega-shops for homemade stuff like Etsy make it easier for the buyer to find and shop with local businesses.
A lot of people stand to benefit from your purchase of a new home. While a certain amount of the purchase will go to the government directly in the form of transfer taxes, water certificates and capital gains, there are many portions of the purchase where you can have some say in how much of your money stays in the community. Buying a house can be scary and it's all to easy to fall back upon the security blanket of a big, national brand when you're in a time crunch and stressed from contract negotiations. Even so, with a little prior planning and research you can make sure that the lion's share of this very large purchase goes to independent businesses in your Chicago neighborhood.
Here are some places where you can keep it close to home:(more…)