For two decades now, the local small business has been an endangered species, caught between major retail chains and the remorseless pressure from landlords to squeeze higher rents out of their properties.
However, at a local level, we are seeing a renaissance in local retailing driven by a growing recognition that buying locally comes with its own advantages. As the once-derided term “community” enjoys its own revival, local small businesses are receiving the recognition they deserve as the true engines of our economy.
Why Buy Local?
Buying local is now officially a ‘thing.’ There are plenty of reasons why it is worth buying local and supporting your local small businesses. Many small business owners are finding that by placing an emphasis on personalized service, offering merchandise that is different to the mainstream multinational competition and introducing sensible environmentally friendly packaging that they can once again compete successfully for their customer’s spending.
By opting for local, independent businesses, customers may enjoy a more personal shopping experience while also nurturing healthy competition and bringing economic vitality back to your local area.
Here are five compelling reasons to consider your local businesses.
#1 – Build A Sense Of Community And Strengthen Your Local Economy
Those casual encounters you enjoy so much in your local neighbourhood businesses and the public spaces around them contribute to building strong local relationships and vibrant community cohesiveness.
Every dollar you choose to pay out at a local business generates three times more value to your local economy than one dollar paid at the checkout in a nationally branded chain and almost 50 times more value to your community than if you bought from an online international retailer.
This is a benefit that shows up in local sponsorships and support for local causes. Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to their local school, charities, local events, and sporting teams than major multinational do.
#2 – Buy It Where You Can Try It!
Local stores usually much more relaxed about allowing you to try on or try out items before you buy. They also frequently have a depth of knowledge about their products that mass chains lack.
Local retailers are also generally more open to you trying or sampling a product. Many local wine merchants host regular wine tasting events, while local bakeries, delicates and farmers markets, hand out tasters to encourage you to sample their fresh regional produce.
#3 – Local Is An Ethical Choice
When you shop at your local butcher, baker, greengrocer or farmers market, chances are, that a substantial proportion of the produce you buy has enjoyed a short field-to-plate journey.
Buying out-of-season produce, or eating vegetables that have been flown halfway around the world or come enmeshed in layers of plastic is not good for the environment and is rarely good for your health and wellbeing. Together with supporting local farmers and merchants, buying local means the food on your table is likely to contain more nutrients and come with less packaging.
#4 – You Will Be Supporting Our Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs
Artisan markets and local small businesses help foster the talents of the next generation of Australian designers and retailers. In local retailing especially, there is a constant turnover of new products and local sellers listen more to their customers’ feedback and action their demands.
Not only does Australia’s small businesses employ more people directly per dollar of revenue, they are also themselves the customers of other local businesses printers, accountants and lawyers, wholesalers, farmers, transport and logistics firms further expanding opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
#5 – They Sell Quirky, Different Products
Local shops often stock items which are either made locally and aren’t available online, whether its a dress created by a fledgling local designer, a new approach to decorating birthday cakes or that quirky gift you haven’t seen anywhere else.
There’s also the ultra-local gift choice offered by local bookshops, which often stock titles by local authors on local subjects that aren’t on the virtual shelves of Amazon. Local shops also tend to support local artists and designers, food producers and growers, so you’re often purchasing products that reflect the unique character of your own local area.
Buying local and supporting small businesses brings benefits that bridge mere convenience. The products are often less harmful to the environment due to reduced transportation costs and lower volumes of packaging. Local also often translates into access to unique products that often don’t reside on the shelves of major chains. When you support your local business owners, you enjoy a personalized level of service, while helping to make your community a vibrant and more self-sustaining place to live.