Where you spend your money matters. If you choose to shop at a big-box retailer, you may get lower prices, which is a benefit of their national buying power with vendors. But if you decide to shop locally, you help make a positive impact on your community.
Buying local supports the businessperson and their family. In many communities, you may even know that businessperson. Their kids may play soccer with yours, or you may run into them at the store or at a favorite pizza joint. Seeing who your money benefits can be a powerful incentive to spend at a local business opposed to a national retailer.
Why else should you shop local? Here are some local shopping facts that may convince you to head over to Main Street for your next purchase rather than buying online or at a huge chain.
1. You Support Local Jobs
When you make purchases at a local store, you support more than just the business owner. Many small retailers also have employees who rely on these jobs to feed their families. Often, these people play many roles in the business. They may:
Oversee the register
Stock the shelves
Balance the books
In return, they get the care of an employer who may offer more flexibility than a traditional retail job. Many small businesses rely on employee loyalty in exchange for perks such as bringing their kids to work or flexible scheduling. By spending money at these stores, you support an infrastructure that gives your neighbors good jobs.
2. You Get Exceptional Customer Service
Local businesses know you may be able to find better prices on items at a big-box store or online. But what those big retailers can’t always offer is a personal touch. Shopping local brings with it the opportunity to pick the brain of the person behind the counter, and that knowledge and experience can be more valuable than saving money.
For instance, say you go to a small guitar shop. You inquire about a rare guitar you saw online but haven’t been able to find. The shopkeeper may not have it in stock, but she knows where you can find it. A few days later, she contacts you because she learned of another customer who has the exact model you want for sale. This care and diligence just made you a customer for life.
3. You Help the Environment
Buying something that was produced within a few miles of your home saves on the costs needed to transport the item to the store.
4. You Can Get Customized Items
At a big-box store, you’ll find the items they’ve been given to sell and nothing more. At a local retailer, you can ask for, and often receive, customized products.
Say you visit a store that sells homemade soap. They have vanilla, cherry, and lavender scents, but no jasmine. Instead of leaving empty-handed, talk to the shop owner. He may offer to make some for you. Or he could recommend a comparable alternative. Local shop owners know their repeat business depends on great service, so they’re often happy to help you out one-on-one.
5. You Encourage Competition
Use the principles of supply and demand to your advantage. The more places you shop for a particular item, the more you encourage competition. And the greater the competition, the better the products and prices will be.
6. You Enjoy a Fun Atmosphere
Local shops have their own special vibes. They aren’t beholden to any corporate mandates on how to set up or sell. You will find many shops have neat touches that will make you want to return, such as dishes of free candy, interesting background music, and unusual décor.
7. You Get Helpful Insights
Local shopkeepers have each other’s backs. They share their knowledge with you, such as where you can get complementary items or how to find things they don’t stock.
Say you go to a coffee shop for a certain blend of bean. They happen to be out of it that day. Instead of sending you to a generic chain, they may suggest you grab a cup at a local art gallery a few doors down because they know this place brews a pot of the same coffee every morning.
8. You Support Your Community at Large
A booming business district is good for everyone in town. That means more money paid in taxes that can go toward things such as repairing streets and backing local infrastructure, as well as supporting area schools.
9. You Can Try Things On
When you order clothing or shoes online, you may have no idea if they’ll actually fit. When you buy from a local retailer, you can try everything on — and only buy what fits.
10. You Get Truly Distinctive Items
It’s boring to give gifts that are just like everyone else’s. When you buy from local merchants, you get unique and memorable presents your recipients will treasure.
There are so many reasons to shop locally. One final reason is that it’s simply fun to walk into a new store and see what they have to offer – and it may be even cheaper than an item you usually see at the big-box store. Pennsylvania has so many wonderful local establishments. Make it your mission to visit as many as possible.
Find more money management tips and resources on our WalletWorks page.