Living in Ahwatukee Foothills means never sailing into the Hillside Spot without bumping into a friend. I love it here — our little bedroom community of families, professionals, small businesses, churches, and a thriving social scene. Service to others is embedded into our lifeblood, and our neighborhoods are places where folks gather for Bunko and barbecues.

We’re a contemporary version of “Mayberry,” and life is a good one here.

Of course, like the rest of Arizona and around the country, many of our friends and neighbors are coping with hard times. We’ve all witnessed the closing of too many businesses this past year, but the owners and their families aren’t the only ones that lose. Those folks invested in our community.

Locally owned businesses make significant contributions toward our state’s economy, bolstering tax revenue and employment opportunities. Business owners recycle their profits back into their local neighborhoods. Further, they give back to their communities, schools and other nonprofits with charitable donations and the sweat equity that comes with volunteering.

Bottom line? We need the “little guy,” the “moms and pops.” From coffee shops to hair salons to Internet marketing services, these businesses underwrite the fabric of our community’s prosperity. And they need our help, now more than ever.

A seismic shift is under way to encourage Arizonans to “go local,” and buy from independently owned businesses, farms and retail shops. Local First Arizona (LFA) is a grassroots organization that provides education and awareness about buying local. The movement is gaining traction.

According to LFA, “Studies have shown that for every $100 spent in a locally owned business, roughly $42 remains right here in Arizona, while for the same $100 spent in a national chain store, only $13 remains here.” In addition to generating tax revenue, independent owners recycle profits directly back into their communities.

So how much does it cost to shop locally? There is often a perception that small shops can’t compete with the low prices of “big-box” retailers. But you have to make fair comparisons. Local shops often incur lower overhead then those retailers, because the president and chief executive officer is often the same person who mops the floors at night.

Then there are the scores of benefits of working with a local owner. When problems arise, small businesses are often more responsive. After all, they live in your neighborhood and want to preserve their reputation. Local owners often offer superior customer service – and they may negotiate special deals, offers or services via their contacts. Plus, they want to see other local businesses succeed. Scratch their back, and they’ll scratch yours.

So the next time you plan to spend money, whether it’s $4 for a to-go coffee or $4,000 for a kitchen upgrade, support the local owners we’re so lucky to count as neighbors and friends. Check out a roster of locally owned businesses at

Not only do you get to enjoy top-notch products and services, you make a significant contribution to revitalizing Arizona. Let’s keep our “moms and pops” thriving in Ahwatukee — one business at a time.

For further information, visit

• Ahwatukee Foothills-based freelance writer, blogger and columnist Diane Meehl contributes regularly to the AFN. Find her online at, or on Facebook and Twitter.

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