5 Reasons to Shop Local This Saturday (And Every Day)
BY EDDIE NICOLAU
Never in QVC’s wildest dreams could they have imagined a world where shopping from home is easier than it is today. I mean, we can push a button when we’re out of snacks or toilet paper, and delivery drones are already being tested in Canada and the U.K. (we’re next).
But as convenient as remote shopping from big stores may be, small businesses are an important part of local communities and economies. Actually, they make up about 28 million jobs in the U.S., so they’re kind of a big deal for our national economy, too. Here’s why we think shopping local is important for this coming Small Business Saturday—and, really, every day.
Go on, they won’t bite. Ask someone behind the counter what their favorite thing on the menu is, and you’ll probably get an earful of knowledge.
They’re part of the community
Unlike the vendors listed in big online stores, the community you live in is a real place filled with real people. The fact is, the better you know your local business peeps, the more insight you have into your community. These are the folks who fix your bikes, make your bagels, and generally reflect the things your immediate community values (again, bagels). They’re dedicated to customer service because they live alongside their customers, and they usually know a ton about community issues and local happenings. Local businesses are one of the few places you can still find an old-school community message (cork)board, after all.
Real interactions are good for you
You probably already know this, but face-to-face interactions aren’t just important—they also make you smarter and happier. Studies have shown that even interactions with people we don’t know all that well (like say, cashiers) contribute towards our sense of belonging to a larger community and overall happiness. Besides, small business owners and operators are generally passionate about what they do, and it’s just plain fun to chat them up about it. Seriously…ask a local barista about the difference between Robusta and Arabica coffee beans, and you’ll see what we mean. (And if you get to know them well enough, they may just hold something special aside for you to try first. How's that for personalized service?)
When it comes to farmers markets, handpicking is half the fun. (Your dinnertime recipe challenge is ON.)
They help the economy
According to the Small Business Association, small businesses make up 66% of new jobs and pay 44% of the U.S. private payroll. That adds up on the national level, but it’s even more important for local communities struggling with employment. Small businesses can employ people who don’t qualify for larger corporate gigs, and tend to attract creative people who wind up inventing new products (like cronuts and freakshakes) that catch on and bring even more growth to the area. And remember—when you support a local business, you are basically giving money back to your community. Successful local businesses pay higher taxes, which ends up going to the schools, police, and fire departments in your neighborhood.
They keep you fresh
Let’s be honest: consignment shops, indie bookstores, and small cafes/markets have the best stuff. They just do! Small business owners and their zealous employees have a freedom that most chain stores discourage, which allows them to stock up on rare and unique flairs that your palette deserves. So why not stand out from the department store crowd? Go ahead and grab that warm vintage vest for the winter…it’s probably more sustainable than anything you’ll find in a big store. Besides, local looks good on you.
Some things are just better the second (or third) time around. You never know what you’ll find at the local antiques/thrift store.
They promote diversity
Sure, the big retailers are convenient as heck (especially when it comes to buying in bulk), but do you really want them to be your only option? Where big businesses react to general consumerism, small businesses are a direct reflection of the community. They’re vibrant, unique, and most neighborhoods just wouldn’t be the same without them. Most of us know at least one person who helps keep the neighborhood local—in fact, this small business owner is former Zipcar employee! So let’s help keep our neighbors afloat whenever we can, and start (or continue) shopping small this Saturday—and every day.
Have a favorite small business that could use some love? Give ‘em a shout-out in the comments below.