What The $20 Shift Means To Our Community

Oct 30

Over a hundred miles outside of LA, on the edge of the Mojave Desert, a scenario has played out that is mirrored in communities around the United States. As an exurb (a large community lying well outside of the suburbs of a major city) the High Desert is kind of forgotten by big businesses, not quite rich enough in natural resources (except sun and wind!) for major industry, not quite white collar enough for a Trader Joe’s, all resulting in higher than average unemployment, and more than 1 in 4 children living below the poverty line.

The freeway is full of commuters spending 1-3 hours driving to jobs “down the hill”. It is common for people to work 2 or 3 service jobs to make ends meet.

So what does a campaign like RelyLocal mean for a community like ours?

Everything! The $20 Shift Calculator has begun to open our community’s eyes to the immense value small businesses bring to our community. The Shift Calculator, quantifies just how much money would be kept in the community if each resident over 18 shifted just $20 a month from a national chain to a locally-owned business. So, for example, if you were going to spend $20 on home decor items and instead of going to a major national craft store, you went to the local vintage upcycling shop instead. Multiply that one small, simple action by 12 months, and then multiply that by the hundreds of thousands of people in our community, and we could keep MILLIONS of dollars here at home.

When I ask people to guess how much we would keep locally, they often say, tentatively, “A million dollars?” They think, perhaps, that is too much to hope for. Imagine their surprise when they discover that our community of about 415,000 people could keep nearly $57 million here in our region each year!

It hits home even more when we look at what that means: 1,000 $50,000/year jobs. Funding for hundreds of local non-profits. Increased home ownership. More local tax revenue to improve city and town services. Fewer children living in poverty.

That is the follow up question I ask people here in our community. “Can you imagine what kind of change in our local culture that might create if we had 1,000 more families with a full time income?” Every single person has responded that it would be a revolution for our hard-hit community.

It all starts with making one small choice. One $20 shift from a national chain, online store, or (for our area) a “down-the-hill” competitor. Supporting local business is fun, feels good, but also makes sense for the community.

This is a video of local business owners and community members taking the pledge to shift $20 a month from a national chain to a locally-owned business.

Alyssa Penman owns and operates an amazing
RelyLocal campaign in Victorville, CA.

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