Whether you live in a large city of a million people or a small community of 10,000, you’ve probably seen efforts encouraging people to “shop local” at some point. But why exactly should you choose a local business? What’s the benefit beyond just being nice to a local?
As it turns out, there are actually plenty of benefits that many people never realize. Here’s a look at just a few of them.
1. You’re putting more of the money you spend right back to the community.
A big reason people shop local is they enjoy “helping the community,” so to speak. People enjoy knowing the money they spend stays right in their area. But when you do shop local, some of that money you spend comes back to help the community a second time. And even better, it’s a larger portion than it would have been from a “big box” store. When a local business owner feels appreciated by the community they’re in, they are much more likely to spend money at a small business themselves—because they know how important support is. They’re also much more likely to make a business donation to community causes (schools, churches, etc.). These businesses understand what it takes to keep a community strong, and are much more apt to be a part of local efforts.
2. You’re helping your community stay unique.
There’s a reason that one of the first things people do with out-of-town visitors is take them to their favorite local restaurant or coffee shop. People love sharing what makes their town unique, or what makes it “better” than all the rest. And local businesses truly are what make an area special. When visitors shop at these stores, they get a sense they’re really “somewhere” instead of the same store they have down the block from their own house. You’ll probably find products at these stores that aren’t available anywhere else. Ask someone about a recent trip they took, and they’ll either tell you about the incredible local cuisine and the quirky shop they found, or how the weather was as they drove to the chain restaurant.
3. You’re getting better service.
It sounds obvious, but nobody knows a community like someone who lives there. When you trust a local business, you’re dealing with someone who knows and understands your area. Sure, the big box store employees may be locals, too, but they don’t have the same investment in the community a local shop does. This doesn’t apply to all types of stores, but there are times when you just need a local’s perspective—at a garden store, for example. A small business owner will take the time to make sure you purchase exactly what you need and exactly what’s going to work for your area, and they will likely throw in some good advice you wouldn’t have otherwise.
4. You’re helping the environment.
If you do any interstate traveling at all, you’ve seen the large semi-trucks crawling across the roadway. These trucks are a vital part of the transportation of goods in this country, but if you’ve watched the smoke that billows from their exhaust, you’re probably thought it can’t be too good on the Earth. When you shop local, you’ve got the knowledge you had a little less part in that pollution than you would have otherwise. In addition, there’s a great chance that shopping local means you drove less mileage yourself, meaning you contributed a little less pollution from your own car.
5. Price isn’t always the bottom line.
It’s no secret that you might pay a little more for something when you shop local. But it’s an investment that’s worth it. Here’s the important part, though: Small businesses try to keep their prices as competitive as they can. They’re not choosing to charge more, but it’s simply a necessity. They can’t afford an expensive TV advertising campaign, and they can’t afford to undercut the prices of the big guys. But what they can do is focus on quality. More often than not, purchasing a product you know is quality from someone who is involved in your community makes all the difference.
But if for no other reason than the ones listed here, it’s always nice to support a local business simply to recognize the hard work and passion that went in to building that business. As any business owner can attest, it’s not easy. Local business owners truly are the backbone of any community, and your support means more than you probably know.
If you have a choice, make an extra effort to shop local. You may pay a little more, but know that you’re investing not just in a local resident, but in the community where you live.