10 reasons to shop local and support small business

With Small Business Saturday is happening this weekend (November 26), I thought there was no better time to talk about shopping locally. The initiative is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign to coax consumers away from huge companies and corporations to support small or independently owned businesses.

Shopping locally is important for sustainability, both economic and environmental. When you shop locally you are supporting members of your own community who are also vested in the heath and success of the community. You are also travelling less, which cuts down on pollution. And be going to your local shop and not having things shipped, you further reduce your carbon footprint.

The math for buying close to home is compelling — for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $73 remains in the local economy and $27 leaves. Compare that to the same $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, where $43 remains in the local economy and $57 leaves. Recent research from Civic Economics indicates that local eateries return nearly 79 percent of revenues to the community, compared to just over 30 percent for chain restaurants.

When profits stay local, it increases the community’s wealth, tax revenue and standard of living. Small businesses and local businesses are still the backbone of any economy, they are local people serving local people and are generally committed to staying there, raising their families. After all, most businesses started out as a small, local business and earned the success of growing and expanding.

Still not convinced? Here are 10 reasons to keep your cash close to home and support small business:

1) Standing firm — Local businesses are less susceptible to national downturns and more likely to work harder to stay open. Local ownership means that decisions are made by people who live in the community, not by giant corporations that cut and run as soon as the going gets tough.

2) Sharing the love — Local businesses support good work in the community. Studies show that nonprofits receive 250% more support from small businesses than large ones. And they are more likely to shop with other local businesses, keeping money moving in our local economy even longer.

3) Special touch — Local business owners do what they do because they are passionate about their products and typically take more time to get to know their customers. They’ll often go the extra mile to help you and to ensure you’re a satisfied customer. They are the decision-makers and they want to build a personal, and long-term, relationship with their customers.

4) Stock knowledge — Local business owners are well informed about their products and know what they are selling. Because they also know their customers well, they can easily adjust their inventory to include the goods and services local people want to buy. Not to mention carrying unique items from local artists and farmers.

5) Cheaper pricing — Sometimes prices at local businesses are cheaper because they don’t have the overhead that larger stores may have and they may be more willing to negotiate to meet your price needs.

6) Increased convenience — Local shopping can translate into a more convenient retail experience. It takes much less time to quickly stop and buy eggs at your local corner store than go park at the mall and fight your way into a large supermarket.

7) Future growth — Shopping locally is the best way to show pride in your community and help protect the businesses that make your city/town unique. They will also inspire other people to give it a go when they see local businesses flourishing; a diversity of local shops is a win-win for everyone.

8) Supporting local made — Local business owners often sell local products, which helps preserve the community’s distinction and creates more jobs locally, as well. This is a virtuous cycle of production that benefits producers, sellers and buyers.

9) Increased expertise — Shopping at a local store means you can get an expert opinion about the products that you’re purchasing. Local shop owners have to be experts in their field to compete. Use them, ask them questions and get advice about products.

10) One-of-a-kind — Unique shops and restaurants are part of what makes any city a great place to live. These are generally the role of small businesses, not mega chain stores and eateries.

We can’t simply say ‘Shop Locally!’ and magically keep local economies vibrant and healthy. We have to take the time and spend the money to support local businesses with our presence and our dollars. You really do vote with your wallet, and shopping locally casts your vote for Tasmania. As a local Hobartian business owner, it makes me immensely happy to have the opportunity to help shape what Tassie becomes. Do you feel the same?