As the daughter of a small business owner, I am well-versed in the advantages and disadvantages of small businesses, and the disdain for “one stop shopping” at Wal-Mart and the like. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Target (and other stores like it) for its convenience and shiny red happiness, but I try to shop locally as often as I can. Here are a few reasons why:
Customer Service. Don’t you hate making a phone call to a huge corporation, speaking to someone who doesn’t know anything about why you’re calling, being on hold for 20 minutes, and transferred 13 times? It’s much better to call the small business with only a few employees. Every employee would be able to answer your questions, you wouldn’t be transferred anywhere, and it’s likely you’d only be on hold for long enough for the manager to walk across the store. When you go into a store and need help, small businesses want to help you, not just feel obligated.
Supporting Your Community. Small businesses are an integral part of every community. Every employee is a member of your community, and often if they’re outsourcing anything, it’s to another business in your community. Most of the money you spend in a small business stays local, and is invested back into the community. It’s cycled back in to other businesses, local taxes, non profits, and local families; you’re boosting your local economy!
One-of-a-Kind Products. Many local boutique stores have unique items that can’t be found anywhere else. Isn’t it fun to have something handmade or locally designed that you know not many other people have? Clothes, toys, jewelry, art, and furniture are just a few of the one-of-a-kind things you can find in small, local businesses.
It’s Trendy! This seems like a silly reason to do it, but it’s getting trendy to shop local, and that’s great! It means the overall experience of small business shopping is getting better: customer service, product quality, shopping environment/ease, and prices. The more people that buy local the better those things will get!
It’s Fun! Farmer’s markets, neighborhood coffee shops, small, local restaurants and family-owned stores often hold family-friendly events, draw other folks from your neighborhood, and may even have loyalty programs – those aren’t just for big corporations! And I like planning outings with and running into friends while I shop, and my kids do, too!
The pros of shopping local vastly outweigh the cons. And in addition to everything else, supporting local businesses just feels good. You’re helping families and your community. How much better can it get?
Check back next week if you’re local to me… I plan to compile a few lists of places I like to shop, eat, etc locally!