Why Shopping Locally Matters Year Round, and How Your Small Business Benefits.

logoSmall Business Saturday 2015 is now history, yet many small business owners are shrugging their shoulders wondering what all the hoopla was about. The concept of Small Business Saturday is great.  No doubt about it.  It raises awareness of the importance of small businesses to our communities.  However, one day isn’t enough to give you the real boost you deserve. My take: Let’s get everyone shopping locally 365 days a year.

There is a burgeoning movement focused on “buy local.”  The Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, for example, has helped establish several Local First networks in that state. If you do a quick web search, you may find a similar group in your area.  The Retail Merchants Association has its Think. Shop. Buy. Local campaign (look for the TSBL logo).

In part, the shop local movement is the result of creative business owners searching for ways to survive the “Great Recession.” Just as a family joins together and pitches in to help one another through a tough financial crisis, a local community can do a lot to support its homegrown merchants.

Various organizations in the buy local movement have tried different strategies to increase local spending. During the holidays, there is a public campaign encouraging local residents to shift 10 percent of their shopping to local businesses. In fact, Independent We Stand has developed a free app for iOS and Android mobile devices. It helps users find local sources to get all the items on their holiday shopping list.

Why shopping locally is important:

A study conducted by the American Booksellers Association and Local First Utah says that 52 percent of the money spent at locally owned businesses goes back into the local economy while national chains put back less than 14 percent. If some of that money ends up in a local bank, it is subject to the multiplier effect, which means it gets loaned out to buy homes, cars or fund new business ventures. The impact can be significant.
In addition to putting more money in circulation locally, Local First networks point out other benefits, including:

  • Local businesses build local character,
  • Local commerce impacts the environment less,
  • Small businesses are the primary creators of new jobs, and
  • Local businesses support local charities and youth groups.

What you can do.

  •  Focus on your customers. The biggest advantage you have is your proximity to your customer. Make sure you demonstrate the added value you provide. We fight desperately to get customers through our doors, but we often see achieving that goal as having knocked in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning. In reality, it’s still the top of the first, even once a sale has been made. Consistently exceed customer expectations and provide service they can’t get from the big, national chains. Build your loyal customer base.
  • Band together.  If you want to truly benefit from the “Buy Local” movement, you need to do your part as well. It would be somewhat hypocritical to advocate local buying and then order all of your supplies from a huge national chain that has its home office three states away. Support your local businesses and they will do the same.As we close out this year, focus on the future and how you can grow your business by thinking small and local.Sponsored by AT&T