Have you ever felt the joy of walking through a local farmers market? Or seen the smile of the creator after telling them how much you love their product? Can you hold a locally made good and feel the positive energy and passion that went into that product? These are just some of the benefits of supporting locals. When you support the locals, you support your community, you are able to make someone’s passion come to life. When purchasing from big box stores, the same joy is not felt by the company and you do not get to create that personal connection that you do when supporting small businesses. You also support the environment, as many local businesses are more sustainable and most create less waste. Big companies and brand names have a bad reputation for creating poor working conditions for their employees. By supporting small businesses you can show your support for livable working conditions and the proper treatment of employees. Supporting local means supporting the local economy and supporting jobs in your town.
All this being said, being able to support locals is a privilege. It is important to recognize that the products of local businesses sometimes cost more, or may not be as accessible. I am privileged to be within walking distance of a fresh local produce market every summer. For some, there is a superstore on every corner but the local grocery market might be 20 minutes away. Or maybe you need a specific item and don’t know a local shop to buy it from, so you opt for a chain store. Supporting small businesses does not have to be an all or nothing event. It is okay if you save up for one local item and that is all you have access to for the year. It is making the small decision to get take out from a family run local restaurant or getting your morning coffee from an independent coffee shop. It is about doing what you can, when you can, as every step counts. However, for those who have the ability to show their support through purchasing local products, I encourage you to make the local choice. We can show our desire for more local businesses by supporting them. For a number of people I have talked to, who have the means to support local, they say supporting local is inconvenient, but often I think it is a lack of awareness of the local options that do exist. The more we can make the switch to local services, the more they can thrive, and the more accessible they will become.
So, how can we make local businesses a bigger part of our lives? Obviously, buying their products or services is an option. But there is much more to it than that!
- Make the switch from a commercially produced product to a locally crafted one when you are at the store, like switching that case of Coors to a case of craft beer brewed locally. Chances are it tastes better too!
- Check out cafes that offer live music and sip on coffee while supporting a local band.
- Grab your friends and head to the nearest craft show or market. Create a list of small businesses that have a storefront, spend a day going window shopping and interact with the owners.
- You can discover something new by browsing a local market or getting recommendations of new businesses over social media.
- Follow local businesses on social media or sign up for their newsletters. Support them through liking, reposting on social media and share them through word of mouth.
It’s so much more than just spending money, it is about community and socializing over things that you are passionate about. And who knows, maybe one day you will turn your passion into a small business too!