We have all heard about the popular reasons to buy local so today, let’s visit some of the lesser known reasons to shop small.
With the current day shift towards social awareness, many people are trying to break away from big box stores. Across the country, there is growing drive to shop small, go green and boost the success of local communities. Nobody wants to see jobs going overseas or to support corporate businesses that only care about making a profit, so slowly, a change in lifestyle is setting in. We, as a national community, are trying to build habits around shopping at stores that are a part of, or committed to, helping the communities they serve. So, when you’re debating back and forth about buying locally, go ahead and act on the many great reasons to shop small in your local area.
If you shop small, you will touch on some lessor known perks about buying local… perhaps without even realizing it. These include:
- Co-op Mindsets: A co-op is an autonomous group of volunteers who support a mutual social, economic and cultural goal. When small businesses owners form co-ops, it’s not just about creating more jobs, but about promoting entrepreneurship and community for America’s local economies. While so many of our friends, families and neighbors are working low-pay jobs, unable to earn a living wage, we don’t want to see the mega-rich corporations make more money. Instead, help small businesses owners thrive and expand. It’s often the small business owners who cultivate a healthy district and have the mindset that progresses from employing a few people to owning a few small stores. And they employ locally, supporting the community they’re in and promote other SMB owners that are community focused.
- Breaking from Corporations: We know that top corporations focus on profits. Usually they have more pressure to perform for their boards and need to show increased earnings every quarter financial report. Unfortunately, this creates an environment that is not always popular for individual shoppers or healthy neighborhood competition. Small, privately owned businesses, on the other hand, are usually more welcoming and ready to do what it takes to help. They are socially considerate and under less pressure to please the masses. This allows them to create projects in areas where they can help and scale locally. Shop small to help local companies break from the corporate cloud. This might mean a salon gives free haircuts at a nursing home or a women’s group works sets up a table at a local college. Breaking from the corporate mindset is not the same as just volunteering locally, it’s supporting supporting community groups, identifying with shoppers personally, scaling locally and enjoying life as a community member who happens to own an SMB.
- Encouraging Growth: As any child who started out with a lemonade stand knows, making money from a business is about making a plan, watching it come together and work working hard towards their goal. If a child grows up seeing their parents or neighbors work locally or take initiative in their local district, it helps to encourage their creative minds towards local success and growing their community. They realize that they too can become strong leaders and help those around them. This differs from typical entrepreneurship in that its main message revolves around appreciation for the local community. Encouraging young minds to focus on local projects that make changes to their direct environment and neighborhoods provides an undervalued but important life lesson.
- Jobs to Seniors and Workers with Disabilities: Local businesses often find it easier to give jobs to a seniors and those who have disabilities. They empathize with the neighbors around them and that caring attitude may actually help their cause. Hiring a kind grandpa to sit at the register or a wheelchair bound Vet to navigate the supply aisle helps to heal the heart and soul of community. Supporting these kindhearted businesses will help in a different way than standard shopping does because it provides positive reinforcement for good deeds and helps give neighborhoods jobs to those who are possibly overlooked by bigger businesses. When local shops hire their parents, neighbors or those that may not have succeeded with traditional routes, it can not only give them stability in helping someone who needs a job, but they can also help to ensure they are helping someone why may need the extra supplemental income.
- Personalized Service: Anyone who is a frequent local shopper should understand that another key benefit is to shopping small is having personalized service. If shop owners recognize your face or have seen you a few times around the farmer’s market, they are more likely to take extra time to provide for your needs. Whether you’re picking out fresh fish or a birthday gift, when you’re shopping locally, you’ll be getting help from someone who can recommend the best picks. They may also be able to get the inside scoop on new products you’re interested in, which leads us to #6. Freebies!
- Freebies: When you shop locally, you would be surprised how much free stuff you can get – just by asking about current promotions for locals. People appreciate your business so they’ll gladly throw in free samples or introductory items. This, in turn, will promote a positive shopping experience for you, making it more likely that you’ll tell your friends about the local shop that treated you well. When you shop locally for services, you may receive a discount if you mention that you’re a local. That can equal about 10% off! Local companies are looking for ways to get you in the door and sometimes these added incentives can really add up at the register – in your favor!
- Knowledge: When the employees in a store can answer questions that you have about products and services, consider yourself lucky. Many large stores and corporations have such a high turnover of employees that it’s hard to keep them trained properly. Big box sales clerks and staff may not know about the service or product, which can leave you chasing down the one knowledgable person in the store… if they exist. When you shop locally though, chances are, you’re working with the owner, long-term, or well-trained employee who knows their products and services inside and out. That means you can ask as many questions as you need to about that particular product or service and they’ll know right away because they are a plethora of information! Shop small to enjoy store owners and employees who are passionate about their local business.
- Shop Small to Benefit From Sales: When you shop small, you may find yourself the first in line for top deals at really great prices. That’s because the local business wants to get your sale and have you coming back, so they let their neighbors know about sales before they send other marketing materials out. So if you are on a tight budget and cannot afford an item you’ve been dreaming over, just ask the local store keep when it may be going up for sale. They will let you know a time frame to save for. And don’t be surprised if they go ahead and offer it to you for a nicely discounted price, just for being a polite neighborhood fan of their shop.
- Better Quality Products: When you shop locally from stores that provide fruits, sweets and other home cooked foods, you’ll enjoy a level of quality and care that is not found in packaged corporate foods. Small business owners who grow their own produce or make their own products tend to avoid adding chemicals to what they’re selling because it does not need to be shelf stable for many years. Shop small for local products and consume them in a reasonable time frame to avoid preservatives and unnatural additives that can have ill effects on the human body. This philosophy applies to fruit, vegetables, home baked goods and other perishables but can also extend to cosmetics, cleaners and health care essentials. You may also find that products that are made locally, like candles and soaps, are much better for your health.
- More Environmentally-friendly Packaging: As we seek out ways to save the environment and cut down on waste, more local companies are using recycled materials and packaging that has less plastic on it. In some cases, such as local markets, you’ll be supplying a reusable bag, which results in no packaging at all for the local vendor.
As you shop small, looking for bargains and deals with local businesses, you’ll find a lot of hidden, lessor known reasons for buying local. There are many great ways to keep the community alive while saving money, gaining more value, helping the environment and encouraging young minds. Shop small today!
What are your favorite ways to shop small? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!