I’ve written before on the benefits of buying handmade, but today I wanted to point out a few benefits to buying local. This goes beyond just buying at craft fairs and boutiques during the holidays, and extends year round to using local mechanics and shopping at your corner grocery store.
I know the familiarity of chain stores can be far more appealing than navigating the products, services, people, layout, and general unknown that accompanies new places. I still encourage you to give a try, even if it’s just one new place. The benefits far outweigh the initial discomfort.
1. Keep money in your community.
Studies show that locally owned businesses recirculate more money back into the local community than chain stores (per foot occupied). So a space filled with a local business puts more dollars back into your neighborhood and helping to boost the economy.
2. Celebrate and embrace what makes your community different from every other community.
Local businesses are unique, and often only exist in your town or maybe a few surrounding places. They give character and personality to the community and offer personal connections you won’t often find at a large chain store.
3. Get better service.
Part of the personal connection you get at a local business is the great customer service. The person who owns the business may be the same person you see at the grocery store every week, or that eats breakfast at the same diner you do each morning. You get to know each other, and the owner has a deep understanding of the needs of his or her customers.
4. Create and keep good jobs.
Small businesses are the largest employer nationally, and are much less likely to move overseas or transfer operations out of their local area.
5. Support diversity.
Small businesses cater their products and services specifically to the needs of their customers at a local level, rather than nationally, which means you’ll have far more diverse offerings than the same old stuff at big chain stores.
6. Help out the environment.
Always a big selling point for me, is that local businesses often make more local purchases themselves, meaning supplies and equipment have less distance to travel. This means less pollution and transportation cost. Additionally, small businesses often set up in existing buildings and downtown areas, instead of building large new sprawls of concrete and parking lots. This preserves habitats and further reduces production.
7. Support community groups.
Small businesses support community groups and non-profit organizations more often and with more donations than non-locally owned businesses. And if you think about it, you see this all the time. Think of the sponsors for kids’ sports teams, raffles at the fair, and donations to soup kitchens. Most of the time those are small local businesses.
8. Invest in the community.
Local businesses are owned and staffed by people who live and work in your community. They go to your schools, shop at other local businesses, visit your parks and have more of an investment in the health and happiness of the community than just the money that can be made.
Need a place to start? Small business Saturday is November 29th this year, and it’s a great way to get in the habit of shopping locally. Put it on the calendar!