Ahh, Capitalism.

Business owners large and small either fail or succeed each year as a part of the free market economy and the enterprise culture that the United States has been built upon.  Mega corporations and small, local, family-owned business alike both have a shot when they compete in the system of capitalism.

One interesting part of attending college in a small town like Farmville, Virginia — other than the obvious close-knit feel of community — is that shoppers, whether locals or students, are presented with a number of local retail opportunities.

Historic Main Street in Farmville boasts local restaurants, gift shops, furniture and clothing stores, as well as national chains like Food Lion, Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply Company, Lowe’s, Belk, and plenty of fast food options.  Even with those options, many opt to frequent the local favorites like Charley’s Waterfront Cafe, Caryn’s Bridals, Amish Originals furniture and crafts, and The Sleeping Bee, among many others.

While not every store or restaurant in the world operates a branch in Farmville, residents do have choices, which is what the free market is all about.

For example, when making a quick purchase for a necessity, I hop in my Jeep and head to Walmart or Rite Aide.  The store hours are more convenient and parking is typically more accessible. The quality of the care and products that I receive, however, is lower than when I opt to stop by the Farmville Pharmacy or a local retailer.  It’s a trade-off, but it’s part of what makes the free market free: I get to choose.

Of course, I can always count on local shops to find the perfect birthday or holiday gift for my friends and family members. Some of the very best food in the area can be found at the town’s locally-owned restaurants.  The market’s push for higher quality and better service has revived the small business scene.

But what really keeps local versions of these small business from being able to compete on a level playing field with the national chains in every town across America?  It’s simple: taxes.

The tax rate has stifled small businesses from reaching their full potential and competing with big box retailers for years. The Small Business Administration estimated that, in 2009, the average effective tax rate for small businesses grew to approximately 19.8%, while big chains and corporations used strategies, lobbyists, and lawyers to shrink their tax bills.  2014 and 2015 brought about even more new tax challenges for small business owners.

As of late, I’ve observed that the credit for “Buy Local” campaigns is primarily given to liberals, probably due to the tendency of society to link supporting local business with “tree-hungers” and “anti-conformists,” and with being trendy or fashionable.

This stigma needs to change.

Conservatives stand firm on a belief that jobs and prosperity are created by Americans with big dreams, not the government with a checkbook.  We pride ourselves in supporting the communities in which we live, work, and learn.