The Christmas season is upon us and with it brings lists of gifts to buy for families and friends. Coming up with ideas for WHAT to buy someone can be tricky, but how about WHERE you buy it?
How much of your shopping is done locally? Just a few last minute items? Where do you do the bulk of your shopping?
According to Michael H. Shuman, author of Going Local, "Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs."
Being a small business owner I'm perhaps a bit biased, but I'll give you ten reasons WHY you should be shopping local and keeping your business where you live!
- Local business owners will invest more in your community. Generally, they live in the community themselves therefore having more interest in the welfare and future of the community. They'll contribute to sports teams, donate to charity events and take part in activities.
- The customer service is better. Period. Because they care about the community they care how you feel when you walk out the door. Their business is a reflection of themselves and as they are highly likely to come face to face with their customers while they're out and about they are less likely to be rude or brush you off. They build relationships with their customers. They get to know you personally, helping you find what you need, ordering things in or calling you to let you know about specials, sales etc or returning items that are broken or don't work.
- They provide local jobs. Most local businesses will hire within the community first.
- It helps our environment! If you shop local you can walk, not drive to shop and I don't have to tell you the impact that can make! Saving gas money and mileage on your vehicle, congestion and pollution all at the same time!
- You're keeping your money within the community when you shop local. Local businesses will often purchase from other local businesses and service providers themselves which helps grow other businesses.
- They offer unique choices. Smaller businesses often have a great selection of unique items that you can't find elsewhere, are hand made or are exclusive to them. When you're looking for just the right gift for someone that seems like it was made especially for them then buying local might be your best bet!
- Competitive pricing. It's a common misconception that smaller businesses are more expensive but this is not always the case. A lot of brand items have suggested retail prices that most will adhere to which means businesses that carry those items will have them priced the same as the "big guys." When you factor in the saved gas money and customer service you have to wonder why you'd buy from the "big guys!"
- Quality! More unique, local items are often better made and come with great warranties or refund/exchange policies that you may not find elsewhere.
- Put your taxes to good use.Local businesses in neighborhoods need comparatively less infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.
- Character of the community. A lot of smaller communities have specific characteristics that make them unique. Local business owners are usually more interested in maintaining that character.