More and more, people are being encouraged to shop locally — especially on days like Small Business Saturday. This movement isn't a fad or special event, however. It has benefits reaching far beyond keeping small retailers afloat in a difficult economy.
Here are seven reasons why it's important to shop and do business locally whenever possible:
- Stimulation of the local economy. When you shop at locally owned stores, the money you spend stays in the community. And local businesses are more likely to purchase from other local businesses, so the local tax base grows and so do local businesses. A stronger tax base means improved schools, better roads and greater support for local police and fire departments.
- Job creation. Small businesses are big employers. With jobs being created where you live, your friends, neighbors and family can find jobs closer to home. That has a huge impact on family, community and the environment because it keeps money in the community (see No. 1) and cuts back on commutes.
- Better consumer choices. The more choices you have, the better the deals you can find. Small businesses encourage competition in the marketplace in a way that mega-corporations just can't. In addition, local businesses provide products and services from local craftsmen and artisans, offering unique options you won't find in national stores. You have an opportunity to buy what you truly want instead of being forced into selecting from a handful of low-quality, high-profit-margin items. Many people don't shop locally because they think they can't buy the things they need in a local store. Not true! Small business owners are more than willing to carry and stock special items.
- Better customer service. When you run into a problem, you're more likely to receive a satisfactory resolution from a local business owner than from a big-box chain. That's because you probably know the people in charge at a local store. Large chains are often bureaucratic, and by the time you're in touch with someone empowered to remedy the problem, you're frustrated beyond repair.
- A greener environment. Small businesses are usually centrally located and easily accessed from a town center, reducing sprawl and habitat loss. Plus you use less fuel getting to and from the shop.
- Greater non-profit support. Local businesses tend to donate more to local non-profits, directly benefitting your friends, family and neighbors.
- Your bottom line. Because local businesses help grow the economic base of the community, the dollars you spend have the ripple effect. That money will eventually find its way back to you. And that's not all. Small towns are more likely to survive downturns with a thriving business base, so shopping local can help keep your neighborhood safer and stabilize home values.
Remember, you don't have to shop locally every time to make an impact. Just getting in the mindset of doing business locally first is all it takes to start improving your community.
For help with marketing, finance, business ideas, management or growing your business, visit your local Small Business
& Technology Development Center.
This story was featured in the Oct. 2013 newsletter