Support Local

Mother and daughter holiday shopping at a local retailer.

By buying products and services from small businesses in your area, you are doing your part to help the community thrive.

New Day, New Amazon Boxes Stacked On Your Doorstep.

Sound familiar? If so, you are far from alone.

During the pandemic, online retail sales have increased by more than 30%. Again,* 30*%. That’s a huge increase in the pockets of national e-commerce companies. But what about the “little guys” down the street? The coronavirus pandemic highlighted a shift in priority to convenience and safe distancing – and that’s certainly warranted. Simply put, supporting local businesses was made much harder by the shutdown. And the tides have not quite turned.

If it hurts your heart (like it does ours) to see locally-owned shops shutting their doors for good as a result of this crisis, listen up. We’re here to remind you of the role YOU play in supporting local and how it’s possible to do so despite the not-so-normal reality we’re living in. Spoiler: It all starts with making a personal commitment (in your heart and wallet) and a change in perspective.

Why support local? Here are two good reasons.

Cheap is compelling, but local is better.

We get it – times are hard for most everyone financially. So the cheapest option often wins out… and is often found online sold by a few mega-retailers. But what if next time you shop around for a certain product – a new shirt, a toy for your child, your next paperback, a bag of dog food – you put on your philanthropic hat and see the (small) upcharge you may shell out to buy from a local business as a meaningful way to help keep your hometown thriving? A little goes such a long way for small businesses. Who knows, you may realize you can get items just as inexpensively as you would from large chain stores. Or you may come to understand that an item created by a local craftsperson, while it will likely cost more, will last you much longer than what you’d purchase online – saving you cash long term.

Do it for Mother Earth.

So. many. boxes.

So. many. delivery. trucks.

You may be able to purchase items online for cheap, but there is an added cost worth considering: the environmental impact. Many believe ordering online must be an eco-friendly alternative to driving to a store. Well, this myth has been debunked, thanks to a 2020 study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Here’s the scoop: People tend to make one-off or smaller overall online purchases. Maybe you order some toilet paper today. Tomorrow morning you might purchase new razors. A few hours later, some sunscreen you’ve just run out of. Each individual purchase individually packaged in individual boxes and individually stored in a large warehouse, then individually placed in a delivery truck to be hauled for miles and miles. The carbon footprint adds up. Now imagine, in comparison, you have committed to shopping at your local mercantile, and know you’ll be making a trip there in the coming days. Most people tend to shop in bulk – all at once – when they take the time to drive to a brick and mortar store. It’s this tendency that results in a lower overall carbon footprint versus ordering online for home delivery.

Okay, so you’ve bought into the why behind supporting local. So how do you do it? Here are two ideas to kickstart your journey.

Challenge yourself to a month of nothing but local.

Sounds daunting? Don’t worry! We think you’ll be surprised at just how doable it really is to keep all of your spending within your community. In a given month (or even a week, if you want to start slow), what will you likely need? Food, household supplies, maybe some entertainment? Most local scenes have it covered. Here are some resources you’ll likely find in your area to get you through:

Farmer’s markets (find yours here)

Mom and pop retail shops (clothes, beer and wine, books, hardware supplies, you name it)

Entertainment (Be a tourist in your own town and check out local museums, theaters, sporting events, bowling alleys, and more)

If you can’t find something you want locally, you’ve got three options:

  1. Wait to buy it until after the month is over.
  2. Ask a local shop owner if they could stock the item. Chances are they will try their hardest to get you what you need.
  3. Turn to a local buy-sell-trade site like Nextdoor or Facebook Marketplace. These are great alternatives that support local community members like you.
Share about your positive experiences with local businesses.

Advertising doesn’t come cheap, and nothing is as effective as positive, organic word-of-mouth marketing. If you have a great experience with a local business, be sure to let others in your community know about it. Whether you post a review to the shop’s Google page, post an image to social media and tag the business, or tell others about your recommendation via a community app like Glassdoor or your area’s BeLocal magazine, your positive words will likely have a much greater impact on the company than your single purchase. The power of personal recommendation cannot be understated. It can’t get any easier to support local. Just use your voice!

Support local has become quite the “buzzword” over the years, but we’re here to tell you it’s not just something to say. It’s something to do… and we can all do it. By buying products and services from small businesses in your area, you are doing your part to help the community thrive.

If you’re new to your area, learn about local businesses to support by skimming through your BeLocal magazine.