It’s become something of a fad for folks to hop on social media and encourage their friends and neighbors to “Shop Local.” There’s a lot of good logic behind the mantra, though.
First, let’s look at the numbers.
Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees account for 99% of all businesses in the United States. Locally owned businesses employ over 77 million Americans and are responsible for creating 75% of all new jobs. Nonprofits receive 250% more support from local businesses than from nationally owned chains.
Still not convinced? Consider this!
Smaller-scale, locally owned businesses contribute to creating communities – like yours – that are more prosperous, more entrepreneurial, more connected, and generally a lot better off!
Here’s another startling number, and it’s a doozy! Approximately 1 in 12 small businesses closes every year, with low sales being the primary cause. Imagine your favorite 12 businesses in the community and decide which one you could live without. Tough choice, huh?
Saying “Shop Local” is all well and good, but we have to actually take the time and spend the money to support our local businesses with both our presence and our dollars. If not, we are contributing to a loss of our community and maybe even its identity.
Here are 13 reasons why you should seriously consider shopping local:
1) Strengthen the Local Economy
For every $100 you spend at a local business, $73 stays in the local economy. Conversely, for every $100 you spend at a non-locally-owned business, only $43 will return to the local economy. When profits stay local, the community’s wealth, tax revenue, and standard of living increase. When you shop local, you’re individually stimulating the local economy – and in turn, helping shape your community’s unique character and personality.
2) Invest in the Community
Local businesses are owned by your friends and neighbors who live in the community. Because of this, they’re less likely to leave and are more personally invested in the community’s future. Locally owned establishments tend to support each other, working with other local businesses such as banks, service providers, and farms to fulfill their needs. This helps both businesses and the residents of the community – like you and your family! In times of economic downturns, local businesses are more likely to work harder to stay open. Local ownership means that important decisions about the business are made by people who live in the community and can personally feel the impact of those decisions.
3) Support Community Groups
Small businesses donate significant portions of their profits to nonprofits, events, and teams within their communities. Big businesses often donate to charities and nonprofits as well, but this money doesn’t typically go back to the community where you live. When funds are donated to local nonprofits, they go directly towards helping you and your family, friends, and neighbors.
4) Keep Your Community Unique
One-of-a-kind businesses help give your community its distinct personality. This exclusive experience can make your city or town a desired destination for tourists or visitors passing through. The more interesting and unique your community, the more it will attract new neighbors as well. Entrepreneurs and skilled workers, in particular, are increasingly likely to invest and settle in a community that actively strives to preserve its distinctive character.
5) Diversity of Products
Big-box stores are beholden to national sales plans and marketing strategies. Thus, they generally don’t stock their stores with products that are highly sought after within a specific region. Local business owners choose products based on what they know their customers want, often carrying unique items and handmade goods from local artisans. Community shops and farmers’ markets are stocked with locally grown produce that’s fresher, longer-lasting, and often more flavorful than that which you’d buy at the supermarket.
6) Better Expertise
Small business owners are passionate, well-informed, and highly knowledgeable about the products they’re selling. They often hire employees with more specific product experience as well, which better equips the business to educate potential customers and “story tell” about the brand. Because they know their customers personally, business owners can easily adjust their inventories to include the goods and services local people want to buy.
7) Nurture a Close-Knit Community
When you shop at neighborhood businesses, you’ll likely run into friends and family more often, which can help unite the community as a whole. Cities and towns with a higher number of local businesses are proven to enjoy stronger social ties and greater participation in civic affairs. Local ownership of business means residents with deep roots in the community are actively involved in development decisions that shape our lives and local environment.
8) Personalized Customer Service
Maintaining positive relationships with community members is important to local businesses. Employees have a vested interest in the products or services they’re selling, and this drives them to go the extra mile to deliver personalized support and ensure customer satisfaction. Business owners are usually directly connected to every employee in the store, and this personal approach often means that any problem you have is taken seriously. Owners of local businesses are often easier to get hold of than decision-makers at a large chain store, so any customer complaints that may arise are usually resolved quickly. Other drawing factors for local businesses include a less-crowded environment and frequently shorter lines, meaning less stress and hassle when it comes to getting what you need from the business.
9) Reduce Environmental Impact
Because local businesses make more of their purchases locally, less fuel for transportation is required. They typically set up shop in town or city centers, which helps contribute to less sprawl, traffic congestion, habitat loss, and pollution. Independent businesses often have a smaller physical footprint than larger companies, and they generally utilize far less packaging than big-box stores as well.
10) Promote Entrepreneurship
Creativity and entrepreneurship are the foundation of the American economy. By supporting local entrepreneurs, you get a higher level of service and help make your community a better place to live.
11) Create More Job Opportunities
Small businesses create jobs where people live, so community members like yourself, your friends, family, and neighbors can work closer to home. This cuts back on commute time, which helps keep employees happy and improves retention and overall job performance. The increase in jobs for local residents will have a positive domino effect, as local stores will need to partner with other local residents to help with accounting, printing, and other essential services. Local businesses also contribute to higher-paying jobs for your neighbors. When you shop locally, you are helping create jobs for teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and many other vital professions. During economic downturns, locally owned businesses tend to retain more of their employees, as compared to big-box retailers which decrease the number of jobs under the same circumstances.
12) Put Your Taxes to Good Use
In addition to generating more tax revenue per sales dollar, taxes paid by small local businesses are widely used to support vital public services such as schools, libraries, parks, street repairs, trash collection, and police/fire departments. By shopping locally, you are actively contributing to these and other local programs that directly benefit your friends, family, and community!
13) Increase Competition
Unfortunately, big-box stores have a long history of driving mom-and-pop shops out of business. With less competition, the big-box stores can charge higher prices. With a multitude of local businesses within your community, all stores will need to keep their prices competitive in order to gain your business. Having lots of small businesses in the community also guarantees a much broader range of product choices, many of which are carried specifically to fill the needs of local customers.
Shopping locally is, hands-down, one of the best and easiest ways you can help improve the community in which you live. Patronizing small businesses in your neighborhood has endless positive and long-lasting effects – not only for the businesses, but for everyone in the community!