Every local business contributes to the local culture and economy. It provides jobs, gives back to the community, and helps maintain local traditions. It’s more important than ever for us to be supporting local businesses, and this post goes over why – and how.
- 5 Reasons We Should be Supporting Local Businesses
- Why We Should Support Local Businesses During Covid
- Local Shopping and Global Supply Chains
- How You Can Support Local Businesses
- 1 // Support your local restaurants, salons, bakeries, boutiques, flower shops…
- 2 // While shopping online, prioritize local businesses
- 3 // Use local services directly
- 4 // Support local museums, community centers, places of worship, etc.
- 5 // Shop locally this holiday season
- 6 // Basically, shun multinational conglomerates for the time being
- 7 // Become more self-sufficient
- Final Thoughts
- Read More About Sustainable Living
Local businesses are a microcosm of the global economy. And local customers are local businesses’ bread and butter. In a world driven by technology, dominated by big box store chains, and more recently ravaged by a global pandemic, local businesses have been forced into a tough position. In order to survive, they need all the support they can get.
But what is the importance of supporting local products and small scale industries? Why should you “buy local” and support local small businesses?
5 Reasons We Should be Supporting Local Businesses
Buying local and shopping local are growing trends in America. There are several reasons supporting local business is beneficial, so I’ve compiled a list of five benefits to buying local.
1 // It supports small businesses and local economies
Shopping local helps small businesses and local economies grow and thrive. When you buy local, local business owners gain local support and local customers. When local businesses grow and succeed, so does the local community as a whole.
2 // It reduces the environmental impact of goods and services
When you buy local (and shop small), the majority of the time it will be less carbon intensive than buying from a larger company in another state or in another country. While local businesses may still be required to use the necessary materials and equipment, they are often more efficient than their larger counterparts. Even better if the materials are sourced locally and in an environmentally safe manner.
3 // It reduces your carbon footprint
Shopping local cuts down on the amount of time and fuel it takes to get goods to you once you purchase them. Since local businesses don’t have to pack and ship goods here and there, they use less fuel and produce less CO2 than larger stores. The supply chain is much shorter, and being local, involves minimal waste when compared to global shipping.
4 // You’re supporting the local community
When you buy local, you are directly supporting the local community. Consider this: When you buy local, local businesses can use those profits to invest back into local communities, keep local labor rates high and local economies strong. When local businesses grow and succeed, so does a local community as a whole. You’re directly affecting local families, and helping to build a more resilient community. And the customer service is usually awesome.
5 // It’s good for innovation, and for local customs and cultures
Huge conglomerates have centralized decision-making that really encourages stagnation in the options that you as a consumer have. If the brand has to be consistent around the world, then the products have to be identical around the world. This is good for things like cars and computers, but not for the creative aspect of products. So a Zara dress from New York and a Zara dress from Beijing will be equally unexciting (don’t buy from Zara, please).
However, buying from a one-of-a-kind local boutique, where the options are few and unique, and made from locally sourced materials, is a much better way to build your wardrobe.
Why We Should Support Local Businesses During Covid
The economic impact of COVID on small businesses has been brutal. Smaller businesses, especially mom and pop stores and other family-owned businesses, have very little wiggle room to withstand financial inconsistencies. And, boy, has COVID brought financial hurdles. With lockdowns after lockdowns, supply chain disruptions, job losses, medical expenses, and other pandemic-related events, the flow of money has become more uncertain than before. Small business owners are struggling to stay afloat. People are understandably only buying what they need, and not indulging in unnecessary purchases. This hits businesses hard. After all, our economy is based on continuous and rabid consumption, and without consumption, the economy is on thin ice.
So the chances are uncomfortably high that the local shops that you pass by every day may not be here next month. This is why it’s important for us to support our community and shop local, because local businesses provide local jobs, stimulate the local economy and strengthen the local community. The local shop owners are our neighbors, friends and family; they give back to the local community by participating in local events.
Local Shopping and Global Supply Chains
How does supporting local businesses take away the stress on global supply chains? When small companies thrive and larger corporations buy supplies from them, it eliminates many of the issues that plague global supply chains. For example, when a company has power over the entire supply chain, it is susceptible to problems that originate at any point along that chain. This can result in everything from fluctuating costs to a lack of control over the quality of the end components.
These companies often have long supply chains that stretch through many different countries and continents. Traveling such vast distances can be expensive and time-consuming, and managing such a complex situation requires a great deal of effort. For example, issues such as differing regulations, currency conversion and transportation costs can cause fluctuations in price that may result in either losses or gains to the company, and losses generally get passed on to the consumers.
Additionally, it is very difficult for large companies to keep track of every single component used in their final products. This can lead to issues such as using conflict metals—which come from mines controlled by violent militia groups, leading to money being funneled into the illegal arms industry—without their knowledge.
As companies become larger, the number of suppliers they deal with also increases. This makes it easy for new business to get lost in the mix and fall out of communication with the company. Smaller companies are so much more simple. A smaller company with a more personable business structure is much more likely to be aware of their suppliers and their wellbeing. Thus, the company is more likely to treat their suppliers with care and respect.
How You Can Support Local Businesses
Whether it be from a local farmer’s market, restaurant, or store at the end of your street, buy local goods. Local businesses allow you to support local farmers and artisans, while also encouraging economic growth in your community. As many families are under pressure due to job uncertainty, childcare expenses, and insufficient funds, here are some ways you can support your local businesses:
1 // Support your local restaurants, salons, bakeries, boutiques, flower shops…
Dine out at the local spots instead of trying fancy new places in other neighborhoods. Also, support standalone local restaurants before chain restaurants owned by large corporations.
If you cannot dine out, then do takeaway and eat at home, instead of ordering through an app for delivery. Remember to leave a nice tip!
Likewise for other local businesses, whether it’s your hairstylist or your local flower shop: if you are able to financially support them through purchasing from them, do so! If you’re not in a position to buy stuff, then just pop by and say hello. Lend a sympathetic ear, have some fun, and participate in your community!
2 // While shopping online, prioritize local businesses
Google is a great way to zero in on nearby businesses that sell what you need to buy. Instead of ordering from Amazon or Alibaba (and having your purchase traverse the expanses of the planet), just buy local and let your item come to you from a few miles away. Try to talk to the business owner, build a relationship (this is not necessary of course; it’s just a nice-to-do thing), and gain some understanding of local challenges to businesses that sell items you need regularly, so that as a consumer you can gain a better understanding of your impact on your local community and environment.
You have no control over supply chain concerns and other wider sustainability issues, but you do have control over who you take your business to, and you should, if possible, take your business to folks who are local and who work on minimizing their impact on the environment.
3 // Use local services directly
Not just for buying products, but you can support your local economy by hiring local cleaners, carpenters, plumbers, and other service personnel. And not through apps, but through word-of-mouth from your neighbors and friends.
To support local services, check their websites before you make any decisions. If they don’t have any available, consider asking them if they would like to offer some. This is also an opportunity to get in contact with local businesses, form lasting relationships and find local deals.
If local businesses don’t have websites or social media, see if you can find them on Yelp! to read reviews and check out pictures of their products/services. This may be able to give you an idea of whether this business is for you. If they are local, but without a website or Yelp!, take a look at local papers, local magazines or local newspapers to find coupons. If you can’t find them there, the local chamber of commerce may be able to point you in the right direction.
4 // Support local museums, community centers, places of worship, etc.
Wholeheartedly participate in art exhibitions, flea markets, garage sales, church collections. Donate whatever you can: money, clothes, shoes, old smartphones. Buy whatever you need at full price – now is not the time to haggle for a discount, if you can afford it. Attend the local school plays, community theatre performances, and open houses. Leave useful reviews online, and keep the circle of information going!
5 // Shop locally this holiday season
If you’re buying gifts to give in person, buy them locally (or from small businesses on a marketplace like Etsy). If you’re buying gifts to send to someone across the country or to another continent, then buy something that’s local to them. Google the “best-rated vegan baker in Rome,” for example, and call them and place an order to be delivered to your loved one (who’s in their neighborhood in Rome). This will actually also reduce your shipping costs, apart from reducing the load on the environment while supporting other small businesses.
6 // Basically, shun multinational conglomerates for the time being
Big businesses do not need help right now. They don’t ever need help from the likes of us, but that’s a bigger topic for another day. For now, stop buying from huge behemoths who are already thriving. You know these companies, the ones who have the biggest responsibilities towards our planet and who have the most to do in terms of making a better world, but who will not do anything because it doesn’t help their bottom line. Those companies.
7 // Become more self-sufficient
Learn to mend your own clothes, cook your own food (Sign up to your local CSA), and whatever else you can manage in your day. For all other things, outsource to someone locally. Get a local tailor to stitch your new dress, your neighbor’s kids to watch your kids. Go for walks in the evenings, chat with your local council members, your neighbors. Live a full life, out in your small world, and be environmentally conscious. Get to know your community members.
Most importantly, offer help wherever you can. If you’re an accountant and you can easily help a local business sort through their tax calculations, then do it. If you’ve been laid off, and have free time to look after your frazzled neighbor’s kids, then that’s a nice and fun thing to do (instead of being stressed and anxious by yourself – been there, done that:(). You get the idea.
To support local businesses, it is important to think local first. After all, we want small businesses to grow and thrive – but in an eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable manner. If we buy local, we will be doing our bit in helping local businesses succeed, and in turn they can provide more high-quality goods and services – and jobs – to the local community. Spread the word!
Read More About Sustainable Living
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NOTE: All brand photographs belong to the respective brands/businesses.