Everyone knows that local businesses face stiff challenges. Major big-box stores and online retailers are dominating with greater selection and generally lower prices. While that may be convenient for you as a shopper, there are still plenty of reasons to support businesses within your own community.
Better for the community
A big reason to support local businesses is that the people who run them are your neighbors. Buying local helps your community because those businesses are more likely to invest profits right back into the community – buying supplies, advertising, using local contractors, and much more. In fact, one study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the community, versus only $43 of $100 spent at a chain retailer. And, shopping at an online retailer that’s not local returns far less than that. You might not see the benefit immediately, but over time, the community gains from local businesses because those tax dollars go toward better schools and public services. Strong local businesses also make your town a better, more interesting place to live and visit.
Keep it fresh with farmers markets
Farmers markets are the very definition of local. But when it comes to food, many people often assume terms like “local” or “organic” translate to “expensive.” However, increasing competition, and the lack of middlemen, has made buying local food more affordable. Additionally, local means you’re buying healthier foods for your family because it’s often fresher and more nutritious. Added bonus: It usually tastes better, too.
Local handmade goods can cost less
Unless you’re buying a car, home appliance or smartphone, handmade can be the way to go. It’s so much nicer to have things like artwork, quilts, candles, furniture and even some clothing, that are unique, and often one-of-a-kind. Of course, it’s possible to find handmade items online, but once again, there are middlemen involved who want their cut. And if you’re buying locally, you can feel good about supporting your talented neighbors.
Thrift stores are nifty
Thrift stores rock. Every trip feels like a treasure hunt. You never know exactly what you’re going to find, but often enough, you find a gem at a bargain price. It’s not uncommon to find designer clothing at a fraction of the cost, and non-designer clothes are always available for very little. Thrift stores also allow you to develop your own unique wardrobe without having to worry about seeing someone else in the same national chain outfit. And when it comes to keeping kids clothed, thrift stores are a lifesaver. You’ll also find tons of options for your next Halloween costume.
Room to negotiate
Those big-box stores have low prices but the only negotiating they’ll do is to match another store’s price. Your local business is generally more open to price negotiation, especially on products that have been sitting around for a long time. And, after a couple of visits, they might recognize your face and throw in a freebie with your order. When was the last time Walmart gave you a free pastry?
Banking in your community
You might have heard this from us before, but when it comes to financial institutions, staying local really makes sense, especially at your community credit union. As with retail stores, more of your money stays in the community, but the impact can be immediate in the form of better rates, fewer fees or even member paybacks. And as a credit union member, you generally receive more personal service and have a partner with no ulterior motives in managing your finances.