“Shop local” has become a buzz term–and a badge of honor–for good reason. Although the term has gone mainstream, it’s important to routinely revisit the wide-ranging benefits of choosing a local small business over a large retailer. Reminding ourselves of the impact of our purchases will only inspire us to continue to shop local, and perhaps motivate others to do the same.
Here are ten points to remember the next time you make the decision to buy produce, clothing or just about any day-to-day item.
- Shop local, go green. Reducing your carbon footprint is arguably the most popular reason to shop local. When you buy from a nearby retailer, it eliminates the need for you to hop in a car in order to reach a faraway store. For many, this alone is a strong enough case to buy local as much as possible.
- Shop local, save money. Shopping locally is inherently an eco-conscious act, but with numerous other benefits. In addition to not having to pay at the pump, you save money by not having to pay for parking at mall parking lots.
- Shop local, get healthier. Retail therapy has taken on a new meaning, especially when you shop for things within walking distance. Instead of getting behind the wheel to hit the road, opt for shopping local and make a healthy walking trip out of it. It’s a good time to tune out work, get fresh air and get your steps in.
- Shop local, support women and minorities. When you support an independent business, you are directly supporting entrepreneurs and their families. This is an excellent way to support groups who likely need it most, from single mothers who opted out of traditional 9-to-5 jobs in search of flexibility, to immigrants hoping to bring their cuisine to new neighborhoods. According to the census, women-owned firms make up roughly 20% of all firms that employed people in the United States. The 2020 Annual Business Survey reports that approximately 18.7% (1.1 million) of U.S. employer businesses were minority-owned, while veteran-owned businesses made up about 5.7% (331,151) of all businesses.
- Shop local, create jobs. You are stimulating the local economy, and creating valuable and meaningful employment opportunities for workers of all backgrounds. While office jobs usually require advanced degrees, small businesses create professions for people of all educational levels. Small businesses potentially give people the opportunity to work in a safe and hospitable environment. Most importantly, employees can gain valuable on-the-job training and learn a specialized skill, whether they work for a local bakery, florist or plumber.
- Shop local, beautify your neighborhood. You never appreciate beautiful and lively storefronts until you see a vacant or abandoned commercial space. When you drive down any town’s main street, take note of how much the local businesses contribute to the beauty and value of the neighborhood.
- Shop local, encourage innovation. The small business economy has become just as creative as the startup economy. Business owners have become quite innovative by catering to niches and even launching new markets in their own neighborhoods. For example, while every town could use a small cafe or diner, some entrepreneurs get crafty by opening Instagram-worthy eateries, such as creperies or a colorful taqueria truck.
- Shop local, always. If your local business district doesn’t have what you need, you can bring your small business shopping philosophy online. Instead of shopping from a mass-marketplace that most likely imports from overseas, do your research and consider buying directly from a small and family-owned business that contributes to the domestic economy.