There are many reasons why you and your neighbours should shop locally. And, while this list could go on for pages, we've chosen the top 10 reasons why we think we should always try to do our best to support our local retailers.
When you make a purchase from a local business, that business owner will often make purchases locally. A locally owned business will typically purchase goods and services from other local businesses. In the case of chain stores, the management typically purchase product centrally, in a far away city or country. Many of the outside business related services such as advertising and computer services are sourced far away resulting in very little local economic impact. Often a big box store will purchase nothing locally – even the toilet tissue in the staff washroom is shipped in from somewhere else far away.
Every business need employees and sure the chain stores hire employees locally. But when you shop locally the employees are typically both paid more and they have more control over the way in which the business runs. Multinational organizations often drop in all of management staff from other locations. That means that the on-site management have little investment in the local community. Since they are unfamiliar with the local businesses they have less motivation to make purchases from local businesses and they rely more on the head office to make decisions. The employees that are hired locally are typically low paying jobs where the employee has little chance of advancement.
When you shop locally you make an investment in your community. That is because local businesses are much more involved in the community both culturally and financially. Big corporations being run by a board of directors somewhere in another city have little motivation to become vested in the local community. Local business people are much more likely to be involved in local organizations and events, politics and are often property owners.
Some people like to shop at the big corporate chains. They like the way that every store on the planet has every product in exactly the same place. Others of us like character. We shop locally so that the purchases that we make are more unique to us. We don’t own the tea pot as several million others around the world. Shopping local gives us the opportunity to own items that are unique to our area, with our values and interests.
When you shop locally the odds are that the merchant has sourced at least some of the products in the local community. Sure some of the product comes from across the globe but you can assume that the local business owner is not making excursions to Asia looking for product to sell.
Products that are produced locally have two benefits with regard to the environment. Firstly the product does not have to be shipped as far as others. And, local producers are more likely than international companies to be concerned about their impact on pollution and energy use.
Even the fact that small businesses are scattered around the community help the environment because you don’t have to drive to the outskirts of town to go to a big-box mall to make your purchases.
This one is simple. When you personally know the merchant from whom you make a purchase you have a connection to that person. Connections to your neighbours make for community, and feeling connected to their community makes people feel good about their lives in general. What feels better: when you save a few bucks shopping at a corporate chain store, or do you feel better when the local merchant/friend asks how your kid did in school this year?
We all know that if you make a purchase at a local merchant that the business owner is typically close at hand and if there is a concern with the product or service that the owner will make it right. Local business owners have a lot at stake and they know that alienating a customer will have a huge impact on business. On the other hand, in a chain store, the person in charge is typically just a manager with little control over business policy. He or she can only do what the management at head office permits. In corporate chains, one customer is rarely a huge importance because there are thousands of other customers and locations where the company can make future sales.
When you purchase a product from a chain store, the odds are that the purchasing department had a very narrow view of the products purchased. A big corporation can only have a limited number of product for sale so they must choose the most generic products hoping to appeal to the largest number of customers – many who are white, middle class North Americans. When you shop locally, the business owner has the option of tailoring his or her product line toward any demographic they choose, and they often have the flexibility to source custom products for their customers quickly and easily.
Buying locally is really a good thing for business because of customer choice. In many communities all of the independent hardware stores have closed because one of the huge hardware retailers has opened up in the area. In these communities consumers are forced to both, pay whatever the retailer charges for the product, because there is no competition. And, the consumer is limited to the range of products available from the one retailer. For customers looking for specialty products, the choices are nearly non existent without local businesses.
In addition to giving higher paying jobs to local citizens, small businesses often contribute much more to local charities and organizations. Local businesses often donate to charities, but they also sponsor local teams and they advertise in local publications and at area events. Big corporations donate to charities too, but the money often goes to huge organizations in far away places – not to the local underprivileged.
Come on Canada, lets keep our local business and environment healthy, prosperous and vibrant.
Just my two cents,