Posted by: Kevin McNally
Just think about the number of times a week you go online in search of an item you need/want to purchase. Do you have a few “go to” big name sites where every shopping whim can be fulfilled with just a few clicks?
Sure, it may be easy to conduct “one-stop shopping” on these mega sites, but imagine the positive impact local merchants would enjoy if just a percentage of your buying power went to area retailers.
There are numerous reasons to support locally owned businesses – perhaps none so compelling as the sense of community well-being cultivated by a strong homegrown economy. Towns with thriving retailers and marketplaces benefit from vibrant centers, which in turn foster a network of economic and social relationships.
Locally owned businesses have a greater tendency toward reinvesting in the community than chain stores; furthermore, neighborhood retailers require comparatively less infrastructure than their “big box” competition and can, in many cases, provide better wages and benefits than chain stores.
The sense of entrepreneurship encouraged by private business not only fuels creativity and resourcefulness it also provides opportunity for growth, which in turn leads to an increased number of local jobs.
Environmental sustainability is another happy by-product of a community with a strong privately-owned business landscape. Local stores support and nourish walkable town centers, resulting in the reduction of sprawl, automobile usage and air and water pollution. And let’s not forget the effect a strong marketplace of small businesses has on competition – which in turn leads to innovation and the maintenance of low prices over the long run.
Local businesses support local causes; in fact, studies have shown that nonprofit organizations receive 250 percent more support from small retailers than larger ones and let’s not forget the personal connection made when shopping locally. Store owners have the advantage of building strong relationships with customers. In addition to knowing their product, they are the decision makers – in other words, the buck stops with them…not an unknown panel of corporate head honchos.
Diversity of product is another calling card of local shops. Neighborhood stores are more likely to carry inventory you might not see at national chain stores since local merchants are more in tune with the goods that area customers want to buy. Those one of a kind shops and restaurants help define a community. Also, synergy between local stores is created, as local businesses tend to buy and sell with other local businesses, maintaining a large percentage of profits within the community.
So the next time you want to explore the availability of products and services online, look no further than a roster of your local merchants. Local shopping is critical to the continued growth of communities – ultimately the success of local businesses attracts other entrepreneurs to open shop, leading to more jobs and recirculation of revenue within the community.