It’s not easy putting yourself out there, but local business owners do it anyway.
They are everyday people who make an honest living. Whether they’re serving up a farm-fresh meal they sourced themselves or are helping you do your taxes at the eleventh hour, local businesses put your needs above theirs to create meaningful experiences for our community.
That enough should motivate us to support local. However, there are many other benefits and profound impacts that come along to complement the local experience.
Here are eight reasons to keep your cash close to home.
1. Put food on a family’s table
At the most basic level, supporting local shows that you care about the community you live in. Think of the budding entrepreneur who opened his first barbershop, the new mom who serves doughnuts at a funky uptown location, and the food junkie who’s turning his passion into a business.
When you spend your hard-earned cash at these local establishments, you’re feeding the mouths and lifelong dreams of hardworking people at the same time.
The extra buck or two you spend at your local farmer’s market isn’t paying for a family’s next luxury car. Instead, it’s paying off their mortgage, or their children’s after-school activities, like piano lessons or soccer, so that they can have a good life. Beyond that, you’re validating their business ideas and helping them build a legacy they’re proud to leave behind for the next generation.
As most local businesses are family-run, you get to see the humanity behind their operations and the lengths they’re willing to go to provide you with the best products and services.
Behind the deli counter, the dad cures premium meats and teaches his teenage son the ropes – all while never missing a beat to greet customers with a warm welcome as they walk in.
Behind the scenes, the mom works 60 hours a week to keep her business going and crunches numbers late at night to ensure they make enough to pay their loyal employees and meet their monthly rent.
At the restaurant’s farthest corner is a booth furnished with colouring books, crayons, and toys at the table, designed to keep the youngest kids entertained and in one place as the parents work.
By regularly shopping at these mom-and-pop shops, you’re helping family businesses keep their doors open and ensure they have good meals on the table. Choosing their business over a stable national chain shows them the respect you have for their service and hard work.
2. Delightful personalized service
When you shop at a big box store or retail chain, chances are you may not see the same employees twice. However, at a local business, you’ll likely run into the same crew nearly every visit—for example, the barista who knows your coffee order off by heart. And the corner store clerk who stashes away enough inventory for your guilty pleasures.
The customer service at local businesses is often much friendlier and informative than big corporations because small businesses employ locals who genuinely care about their customers and have expertise in their products and services.
Unlike vendors at a mall, employees at a local establishment can offer you personalized recommendations and valuable insight about what’s in their products and how they’re best used because they may very well have made it with their own hands, or at the very least, received thorough training and are passionate about what they do.
With local businesses, it’s not about the dollars. Instead, it’s about treating customers right and upholding the community values of the company. These individuals truly care about your best interests and needs, so they will take the time to go the extra mile to earn your loyalty. Whether it’s responding with personalized messages or meeting customers with empathy, you’ll feel seen and heard.
3. Discover new connections and friendships
There are social perks to becoming a regular at a local spot. It’s one thing to be greeted by friendly faces, but another thing entirely to understand the story behind their business.
Striking up conversations with local owners opens up the opportunity to share common interests, celebrate differences, and get to know each other on a deeper level.
Maybe your favourite restaurant is owned by an ex-pat whose love for his native country’s cuisine reminds him of simpler days and his grandmother. Or perhaps the yoga studio you frequent is living proof of the owner’s will to fight against disease and regain control of her body.
Whatever the case may be, all local businesses have stories worth telling. The social exchange at these local spots is meaningful, from learning about their background and the drivers that motivated them to pursue their dreams.
4. Stimulate the economy with job creation and keep money local
The numbers speak for themselves. When you buy from local farmers, grocers, restaurants, or stores, you kickstart this virtuous cycle of creating a healthy local economy and steady employment. For every $100 you spend locally, $68 is reinvested right back into your community because local businesses set up supply chains on their own turf rather than seeking national or international imports. This means local money stays local, helps other neighbourhood businesses grow, and supports our tax base.
As the largest employers nationally, small businesses are the backbone of our economy. So when you purchase local goods and services, you’re giving family, friends, and neighbours good jobs, so there’s no need to look past our borders to outsource talent.
5. Diverse products
When you’re on the hunt for something special–a birthday gift for mom, a house-warming item for a friend, or a surprise for your anniversary–local businesses should be the first place to look.
They are outfitted with one-of-a-kind products and services that you simply can’t find anywhere else. Makers and artisans have poured their heart and soul into their products, and the passion is clear from the moment you enter their stores and pick up a high-quality product.
Unlike retail chains which mass-produce their products and are willing to cut back on quality to save a pretty penny, the lifespan of locally-made, small-batch goods fare much better.
Even though at a chain you may initially get your hands on something that’s a bargain, you ultimately lose more money when the product doesn’t hold up or breaks and you need to keep going back to replace it.
You can choose from a broad selection of options at local businesses, and they’re better positioned to tailor their products and services to meet your changing demands and interests because they serve a smaller pool of customers in comparison to big corporations.
6. Greater product knowledge
Local business owners know their stuff because they are the creators. They play a pivotal role in their products’ entire lifecycle, from ideation through to packaging and delivery, so there is no one better to ask about the product than the subject matter experts themselves.
But product expertise is just half of it. Among the long list of attributes that set local business owners apart from their national counterparts is their obvious enthusiasm and charm. They share genuine excitement over their products and how they can benefit customers.
Local business owners won’t hesitate to tell you everything about their product before you’re ready to buy, and they’re not pushy either because they’re not pressured to value meeting sales quotas over putting the customer first.
7. Reduces environmental impact
Buying local helps you go green faster. Since many local businesses are set up in city centres or villages, less automotive travel is required. Visiting your local pharmacy or cafe can be as convenient as a stone’s throw away. With less driving in general and more travel by foot, train, or bike, shopping local decreases the amount of congestion and pollution in your city.
But that’s not all – small businesses use local resources sustainably and reduce the processing of goods, packaging, and waste. Many local companies are dedicated to being waste-free and set up partner networks that allow them to source their products ethically, with the least amount of environmental impact.
8. Unique experiences that bring your community to life
If our streets weren’t lined with local shops and businesses, our homes would never be the same. The roar of a local pub on game night and raising beer pints in the air as the home team scores. The sweet scent of vanilla waffle cones as they hit a hot pan. And the electricity of a boxing studio gone wild on a Wednesday evening. These moments are irreplaceable.
Local businesses inject vibrancy and character into our cities, making them unique places to live, work, play, and visit.
Make local your number one choice
Supporting local is more than just a buzzword – it’s a movement and depends on your regular service to maintain a thriving community. So the next time you make a purchase, remember these key benefits and what they can do to serve families, friends, our economy, and quality of life.
To discover the best ways you can support local businesses in your city, check out Locate Local, a socially driven marketplace and community that matches your interests and values with local vendors near you. Join the waitlist to make a meaningful impact in your community.