Small, But Powerful: Choosing Local Businesses

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Take a stroll down your favourite trendy boulevard in your city and you’ll see local businesses scattered all around. Hardworking locals pouring their whole selves – and often their whole bank accounts – into a business they’ve built and launched on their own.

As admirable as small businesses are, they often don’t get the priority pick from consumers. It may be the price factor – preferring cheaper, more affordable options – or the convenience factor – choosing the nearest grocery store to buy tomatoes rather than drive the extra mile to go to the local farmer’s market. Whatever the case, small businesses are not always people’s first pick; and this applies to more than just consumers – it applies to businesses as well.

Companies, especially small-scale ones, have a natural tendency toward prioritizing finance-focused goals: how can I save the most money possible, and make the most money possible, in the fastest way. However, supporting local businesses, while on the onset may seem harder on your wallet than working, for instance, with suppliers from China, is a long term investment resulting in more than an immediate, quick money fix.

 

Keeping Money in the Community

Studies have shown that a greater percentage of money stays inside a community when buying local compared to an international franchise. By buying local – or in the case of businesses, working with local suppliers – you are not sending your money overseas to a recipient entirely disconnected for you and your community. You are directly putting money back into your own community, making yourself and your neighbours the beneficiaries of your investments. Because local businesses tend to also buy locally, it enables communities to become increasingly self-reliant and less vulnerable to the unpredictabilities of the international market.

The brave entrepreneurs running their own businesses are personally rooted in their cities – more often than not, they have forces other than business pulls keeping them there. Their vision and timeline often extends beyond their grandchildren and are therefore invested in the community’s future. They are less likely to uproot their business and relocate in an effort to gain more profit. They’re rooted, which means they are a steady source of job creation and internal wealth distribution.

 

Neighbourhood Character

On a less financial note, local businesses are one of the key shapers of a city’s character. Whether this seems relevant or not, the vibrancy and uniqueness of a city is in fact a catalyst of local economic growth, through the increase of tourism, international recognition, etc.. What makes a city unique are the small businesses run by locals that are emblematic of their cities’ makeup. Chain stores that are identical across the board add no unique value to a city, and inform visitors of nothing about a community’s charms, flairs and unique traits. One-of-a-kind businesses, however, run by locals who, in essence, embody the character of a city, are an integral part of a community’s personality. They are the voice of a community.

Local businesses tend to celebrate the features of a community that non-locals ignore, or are simply unaware of. Unique history, music, food, style, architecture, art… these are the qualities that set communities apart. Without them, we all become homogeneous. Local businesses highlight these features, if they are not already using them entirely to catapult their business, through a local microbrewery or a new fashion line, for instance.

 

Prioritizing the Person

Finally, there has been an increasing move – for both consumers and businesses – toward socially-minded consumption and business practices. Consumers want to buy from companies that care – about the environment, about the economy, about people. And businesses are responding, giving the customers what they need.

Focusing your purchases – or your business – on supporting locals recognizes people. It sees the tremendous amount of risk, challenge and authenticity that goes into running a local business, and supports it. Your hard earned dollars are going to someone who truly knows the meaning of hard earned dollarsThe real person behind it all is seenand as result cares even more about delivering a quality product or service and a quality experience. When a local Target or Zellers closes down, there is no emotional reaction on the part of a consumer, other than perhaps a sigh of frustration over the extra mile drive it now takes to get a bag of chips. The cashier likely didn’t know you by name, and you knew most of your money was going right back into international hands at the end of the day.

However, when your favourite local diner closes down that was run by the same family for 60 years, where your coffee and croissant was ready and waiting for you every Saturday morning, there’s a true emotional response. Why? Because that diner was run by a person that was actively invested in your communityThe interactions between clients and independent business owners often develop into an authentic relationship – more than just transactions, these relationships become familial because the person is at the center.

 

Unlike the anonymity often entrenched in gargantuan chains, you are investing in a person when choosing a local business, and by consequence, your community. You are directly contributing to the growth of the city in which you live, developing and celebrating its unique character, and helping stimulate its economy. As a consumer and as a business, consider partnering with local entrepreneurs  – your investment means more than just dollar signs.

 

Sources: 
  • http://content.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1903632,00.html
  • https://sustainableconnections.org/why-buy-local
  • https://bealocalist.org/benefits-of-locally-owned-businesses/

 

 

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