Opinion: The heart of the community: Why small shops make Glen Ellyn the vibrant town it is

Glen Ellyn’s beauty and charm is taken for granted. Like the rest of America, I am guilty of shopping at large chain stores for most everything I purchase. While stores like Walmart and Target are convenient, they are killing local businesses.
The chain store epidemic is not only a problem in the Chicagoland area; it is nation wide.

According to Joe Persky, University of Illinois Chicago economics professor, “In 2006, months before a Walmart store was opened in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago’s West side, researchers counted 306 businesses in the surrounding area. Two years after the Walmart opened, 82 of those businesses had closed.”

Small business can never compete with the low prices and variety of options a chain can provide, but large stores are not perfect themselves. With endless isles of “stuff,” comes a lack of attention. Colleen Corkery, a blogger on Five Stars, said, “One of the biggest advantages [small businesses] have over large retailers is the ability to provide more personable, hands-on, and memorable customer service.”

I am not alone with my concerns for the independent shops. The Shop Small Movement’s website confers, “In 2017, an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday — generating roughly $12 billion in reported spend.”

There are people that may argue that large businesses bring life and economic growth to towns by being able to pay higher taxes and rent fees. They also are able to bring in a larger variety of goods for consumers.

While this is true, large chain stores cannot provide a town with the charm and uniqueness an independent shop can do so well. The Shop Small Movement is confident that, “A visit to the family-owned framing shop or a stop at the neighborhood taco truck not only supports our local economies, it promotes more vibrant communities.”

As any small town resident can agree, local shops are the heart of a community. Not only do they contribute to a unique and vibrant culture, they make sure to make every customer’s experience special.

So the next time you are shopping for a birthday present or holiday gift, stop by one of our local shops and contribute to the stores that make Glen Ellyn the special, beautiful, lively town it is.