There is something to be said about walking down the street and having people know your name. It's great to be recognized and engaged in coversation consisting of more than just a "hi". You might not get that kind of personal touch in a big city, where, sadly we become more of a number than a face.
Well, local, small business are out to avoid that very thing. There are so many great things about shopping locally, I am sure I will miss out on a few points. But let's try to pick out a few.
Supporting the local economy-
More money kept in the community goes back into the community. Who do you think supports the local charities and children's hockey teams? That's right... the local businesses. Who does the community go to when they need to post flyers about the bake sales? Right again... the local businesses. Keeping small, local businesses busy can be part of your way of giving back to your community.
Better service locally-
Chances are, the small business owners in town are your neighbours, so when your pipes froze while you were on vacation in Mexico, who you gonna call? [Ghostbusters!?] With a smaller consumer market than a larger business, hopefully, your plumber or electrician (or whoever) can show up right away. That being said, if they are the only plumber or electrician (or whatever) available for your community, that might not apply. But patience is a virtue, right? Especially when your toilet is overflowing... That being said, small business really do have to work harder at appealing to their customers because their client base is smaller than a larger company, and in order to expand business, they have to keep your clients happy and coming back. One lost customer hurts a small business way more than a lost customer in a larger business.
Instead of driving a few hours to a big city centre or cross-border shopping, buying local supplies positively impacts not just the local economy, but also the environment. Buying local, in-stock items means a reduced shipping carbon footprint. If you have to drive a few hours for a product, think of the time and energy it has taken you, personally, to get there. Often times, local business can order in that same product and get it shipped together with other products, as to reduce shipping costs and environmental impact. Think of it this way- if 50 people leave town to each get one product or if 50 products can get shipped once, what is the difference environmentally? Quite substantial, when you add it all up.
What better way to promote local business than to buy products that are manufactured locally. This cuts down entirely on shipping costs, keeps jobs in town, increases economy, and promotes the "locally grown" movement. Not to mention, a lot of these products are unique and ethical, as in, you know they aren't made in sweatshops.
As with any business, reputations are, of course, very important. But before you write off any business, do your research. Ask the town gossip if maybe they have had a staffing change-over recently, aka, did they fire the person yet??! One bad case may not mean the business is unworthy of your business. I always try to see the best in everyone and everything, so this is where second chances might come into play. Unless the business is doing something unethical or has a deserved bad reputation, that one bad experience might have been just that. I like the "3 strikes, you're out" rule. And who knows, if you do say something (respectfully, of course) about a bad experience you've had, the local businesses might be willing to work harder at winning you back. And on the other, more optomistic side of the topic, if you've had a great experience with a local company, pass it on! I can't think of anything much better than encouragement, and even a simple thank you.
Ants on a Blog
By Jena Keenan