Few can deny the ever-expanding allure of the internet when it comes to shopping. Literally, a world-wide selection available at your finger-tips 24/7, 365 days a week, and all at unbelievable prices. Pay for delivery and it’s dropped off at your door. In fact, it’s so convenient, some people say local businesses should just close up shop and move online…after-all that’s where the shoppers are.
But, is it really that simple?
Does an online shop let you try on multiple dresses, skirts, tops…and more? Or check out the size, style, colour, fit, texture and, most importantly, the look – you know, the one that says “yes, it’s so you” in the eyes of your friend, partner, family member or shop assistant?
Real life shopping is so much better than virtual because you get to experience so much more: shoes that feel good; make-up that looks good on you, not just on the models; quality of finish, a hint of exclusivity; the pleasure of finding that hidden gem; enjoying a little indulgence; a time to be with yourself or to share with someone special; that debate with yourself – should I get it now… it might be on sale next week?
The true cost of shopping on the internet – with its allure of promised lower prices and convenience – is that you lose all the tangible benefits, and only get to use one or two of your senses (sight, and sometimes hearing). Out go touch, taste and aroma, let alone that most important sixth-sense – you know, the one that says it’s right because you just know!
10 benefits of buying local
- Strengthen the local economy. Spending locally generates a multiplier effect, creating a positive and lasting impact on the prosperity of both local businesses and residents. As local businesses are more likely to shop with other local businesses, buying in your community results in significantly more of your money staying in the local economy. Small local businesses recycle a much larger percentage of their money per dollar received, back into the local economy, returning over three times more than a chain store and almost 50 times more than an online mega-retailer.
- Taxes, rates and infrastructure costs. Lower taxes! Local businesses generate more tax revenue per sales dollar than most internet businesses and many multi-national corporations. Local businesses grouped together and situated in central community locations also place less demand on our roads, sewers, and safety services, thereby requiring less infrastructure investment and resulting in a better spend of our tax/rates dollars. The bottom line is this – local business taxes keep overall taxes/rates lower.
- Environmentally friendly. Smaller, local stores allow for a healthy, sustainable environment as they require less land – without huge parking lots – and carry more locally made produce. Local businesses in town centres are vibrant, compact and walkable. Because they are located closer to residents, they create less traffic congestion, habitat loss and air and water pollution.
- Product diversity and uniqueness. One-of-a-kind shops and restaurants are part of what makes the buying experience pleasurable – you discover so many interesting things and interesting people when you buy locally made, quirky, one-off gifts. Rather than being influenced by broad national sales plans, local businesses take an individual approach to selecting products because they know what their customers want, guaranteeing you a diverse range of product choices and helping preserve the community’s distinction. Local businesses selling locally made products also create more jobs in the region.
- Job and wages. Small local businesses are the largest employer in our community. And, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than the chains do. Not only do they employ more people directly per dollar of revenue, they also create jobs and opportunities for other local businesses. They are the customers of local wholesalers, printers, accountants, lawyers and other service providers. They provide opportunities for other local entrepreneurs.
- Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship fuels economic innovation and encourages local prosperity. In some cases, it provides families with a key means to move out of low-wage jobs. Entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character. These local businesses are less susceptible to national downturns and more likely to work harder to stay open. Importantly, decisions are made and felt by people living in the community. By the way, read the inspiring story of Tiffany Matthews and her entrepreneurship.
- Community well-being. Locally based businesses build the community by sustaining vibrant town centres and supporting community good works. They donate significantly more to local non-profits, buy and sell from other local businesses and promote community well-being by ensuring profits remain in the community. They also create a web of economic and social relationships – the ultimate community social networking site. With national, multi-national or internet businesses, most of the profit is permanently ‘leaked’ out of the community.
- Better service. Local business owners take the time to get to know their customers, are knowledgeable about the products they sell and adjust their inventories to include the goods and services local people want to buy. Shopping locally means you can get an expert opinion about the products. This is a prime advantage to shoppers – local business owners have to be experts in their field and provide great customer service just to compete.
- ‘Whole’ customer experience. Try it before you buy it. Get real expertise at the local stores and save time and money. Enjoy the ‘whole’ customer experience by trying it on and trying it out before deciding whether to buy it. Convenient, pleasurable local shopping. Local business owners are passionate about their products, typically take the time to listen and often go the extra mile to ensure you’re a satisfied customer. Local businesses consistently beat out chains and internet sites in overall customer satisfaction ratings.
- Personal connection. It’s personal. It should be about you. Getting to know the local business owner is a great reason to shop local. Why wouldn’t you shop where they know you by name, your likes and dislikes, and where you are not just one of a few billion others.
Be a Local. Think Local. Buy Local
Buy local, you not only get to enjoy a more distinctive and personal experience, you also get to help ensure that experience remains local.
Simply saying “Buy Local” is not enough to keep the local economy vibrant and healthy. Take time to enjoy yourself as you spend your money, support local businesses with your presence and your dollars.
Words Marcia Josephs