It appears most trends in the modern world are making people more impersonal, less empathetic and somewhat more selfish. It is always the common idea to believe that: “Folks these days don’t have the kind of values we did when I was comin’ up!”
While there is much about the modern world that creates a more global, less personal environment, there are some trends taking hold that make the world a better place. A key example of this is the recent movement of shopping locally. While this is not exactly a new concept, it is nice that buying locally now seems much cooler than it did in the past. People are now more aware of where they spend their dollars and there is a real shift in consumer mindsets towards becoming more community conscious.
Still, if you are not a small business owner yourself, you may not see how buying local benefits you. You may only do it when your friends are around, or think that the only way it affects you is allowing you to feel good about something you did that day. While it is great to get the fuzzy feeling of doing the right thing– and we all want to make sure our friends know we are cool enough to buy locally– there are many other benefits of doing so than the common consumer realizes.
Even if you do make a constant effort to buy locally as often as possible, you may feel that there is no choice but to turn to the giant chains and the online megastores sometimes. Especially if you are strapped for cash, you may feel it is more realistic to head to the giant blue devil that shall remain nameless because that is the best way to save money.
When most of us think of how we will spend our money, it’s kind of a big deal, so it is important to understand how buying local affects you personally. While paying a third of a penny less for a box of diapers large enough to last your child through college may seem like the most financially prudent move, it may not be. There are several ways that shopping at local small businesses more positively affects your pocketbook in a real, immediate way.
So, if you are still unconvinced that you really should make a concerted effort to buy your goods at local stores, we have put together this list of some of the top, most realistic reasons that it is the best way to go. There are many benefits of buying local that have nothing to do with jumping on trends, and your small purchases can have a large impact. Here are some of the many reasons to avoid the big box chains and the online mega retailers and take a stroll into that cute little shop on Main Street.
1. Invest in your community
This may seem like the obvious reason to shop locally, but there are some subtle ways that doing so affects your local economy that you may not realize. For instance, every dollar that you spend at a local, independent business returns three times more money to the local economy than if it had been spent at a large chain– and almost 50 times more than at the online mega retailers.
Local shops also have a way of creating a sense of community. They create a kind of strength and character in neighborhoods that might be stripped away by the presence of megastore. On this same note, local stores can help define a community and give it its own unique flavor and identity. Research shows that people are much more likely to vacation in places where there is a strong sense of local character, which obviously brings even more money into the community.
2. Good jobs and better customer service
Small businesses provide more well-paying jobs for your friends and neighbors. These are jobs that they can care about and feel pride in what they do. When they feel this way about where they work, they are much more likely to treat customers with care and take pride in every interaction. It is always much more enjoyable to talk to the friendly barista at the local coffee shop than to yell at the clown at a drive-thru. It’s also not fun to haggle with a self checkout machine– I’ve tried.
3. Support the environment and local causes
Small businesses are typically small. They take up less land, consume less energy, carry locally made products and locate closer to residents to create less traffic and pollution. They are also much more likely to donate a substantial amount to local charities and foundations. In fact, non-profit organizations receive almost 250 percent more support from small businesses than they do from large corporations.