Much has been written about the advantages of shopping and buying products online or from big box retailers. But does buying locally offer any benefits the Internet and big box stores can’t match?
Saving a few dollars by buying online is a given in many product categories. Amazon has becomes a household name by selling books and every other imaginable item, many of which they don’t manufacture themselves, at discounted rates.
However, before you spend that next dollar online or in a big box store instead of with a local business, consider the impact your decision has on your community and even your own pocket. The short-term benefits of saving a few dollars are dwarfed by the long-term negative consequences, including job loss in the local community.
Buying local isn’t just a feel good act or an act of charity. Buying local has a profound impact not only on the local community but also on the entire region surrounding the community.
When local businesses close their doors, they create a social and economic hole which is hard to measure and even harder to fill. With the closing of each local business, the quality of life in the community changes in ways that go far beyond dollars and cents.
Independent local businesses spend money locally on a wide variety of services needed for their own ongoing operations. They hire locally and spend money with their own local vendors. Local businesses hire local accountants, consult with local attorneys, work with local building contractors, electricians, and plumbers, and advertise locally. In general, they do far more to keep the flow of money in their local community than online companies or big box retailers do.
Out-of-the-area corporations use minimal local services and goods. Most of the profits are kept with the corporate headquarters where they stay.
Here are some other facts to consider.
- Small businesses account for over 75% of all new jobs in the U.S.
- Small businesses employ over half of all U.S. workers.
- Twice the amount of money stays in the community when it’s spent with a local business versus an online company or big national box store.
- Local economies aren’t hurting due to lack of money coming in. Instead, the shortfalls come from too much money flowing out to big corporations out of the area.
- National and international politics and policies have a far lesser impact when the community shops locally, thereby relying less on out-of-town corporations. Local shopping money has a much higher chance of recirculation within the local community.
- Locally owned businesses typically provide higher wages and better working conditions than large corporate chains and Internet-only businesses.
- You can see, touch, and feel what you’re buying locally, instead of having to wait until the shipment arrives.
- There are no shipping costs or delivery delays when you buy locally.
- When buying locally, you can get your questions answered in person or on the phone instead of playing email tag with the online vendor.
- Your local business owner’s livelihood is dependent upon giving great service. If they don’t, you won’t go back. So they try hard to satisfy their customers because they know there are only so many customers in the local market.
- If you encounter any issues or problems, local ownership can make quick decisions to resolve the matter. Important decisions are made locally by people who actually live in the local community and feel the real impact of those decisions.
- Local businesses add charm and a unique atmosphere to their local community. They help build strong communities and vibrant town centers that foster social relationships not possible with websites or big box stores.
Local businesses don’t ask for special favors. They simply want a fair and equitable playing field on which to compete. Many small business owners have their life savings tied up in their companies, so they have much vested in the success of their business (and the local economy). Small businesses simply want it known that sometimes a few dollars saved in the short term does far more damage to the vitality and well-being of the community at large in the long run.
Now that you know some of the facts, it’s time to visit your local businesses. They’ll welcome you and thank you for supporting your community.