The last few years have been tough for everyone. We have had lockdowns, travel bans, and not been able to see friends and family. Many people have struggled financially, not least the owners of small local businesses.
Small businesses are often the backbones of local communities and economies, and they have felt the impact of the pandemic harder than bigger businesses. As life returns to more normal, it is up to all of us to show our support to our local small businesses. In this article, you will find out not only how to support small local businesses but also why you should do it.
Types of Local Business
Many local communities have a range of small businesses offering a wide variety of services. These services include:
- Food – including bakeries, grocery stores, and butcher shops
- Clothing & Accessories stores
- Goods for home – furniture, flowers, etc.
- Arts and Crafts
- Bars, Cafes & Restaurants
- Accommodation Services
- Hairdressers and Beauticians
During the pandemic, some of them had to close and others that could stay open, saw a reduction in customers as many people preferred to do their shopping online.
Some small businesses could continue trading online, but they haven’t got the same online presence as bigger companies. They also cannot compete with large companies on price and as many households noticed the pandemic’s impact on their finances, they opted for larger online retailers with lower prices.
Why You Should Support Small Local Businesses
It is understandable that many people preferred to shop online during the pandemic. It felt safer, and it is so convenient. You can order anything you need and get it delivered to your door. Even now with the restrictions lifted and the vaccines working, many have continued to shop online because of the convenience and because it is often cheaper.
The most common questions we receive at Made in CA are, “why would anyone want to go back to local shops when shopping online is so easy?” And “why would anyone want to pay more for their goods or services?”
It is true that the prices are often higher at local shops compared to larger retailers or online shops. This is because they often source their products from smaller producers and manufacturers. They also haven’t got the power to bargain with food producers or good manufacturers for lower prices.
But when you give your custom to local businesses, you are getting more than goods and services. You are supporting your local community. Here is how.
1. Local businesses create local work opportunities. Most local businesses need staff to help them run the business. Hotels need receptionists and cleaners, bars, cafes, and restaurants need chefs, bar personnel and waiters, shops need sales assistants… The list of potential jobs created by supporting local businesses is long.
2. Local businesses are also more likely to source their products from the local community. Butchers and vegetable and fruit sellers get their products from local farms, while arts and crafts shops often sell designs from local creators. They often use other local businesses for additional services such as accounting and repair works for their premises thus creating even more work locally.
3. Using your local services is often more environmentally friendly. Because the goods have not been transported from, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles away, the carbon footprint of the goods is smaller.
Small retailers buy products from smaller producers. This can also mean better quality and more organic products ranging from hand-reared meat and vegetables to handmade jumpers. Yes, the price tags are higher, but so is the quality.
4. Small retailers often know the producers of their products and can tell you more about them. For example, a butcher might be able to tell you about the farm the meat came from or a boutique owner about the designer whose handmade jewellery they sell.
5. When you support a small business, approximately 7/10 of that money will stay in the local community. It is paid in wages to the local employees and to the producers they get their goods from. Neighbourhoods with healthy local economies tend to have higher employment rates and less crime.
6. Small businesses often give back to their local communities, for example through donations or by providing services at community fairs and gatherings. Because they depend on their local consumers, they usually take a keen interest in the community’s wellbeing.
7. You are more likely to find something unique. When you buy from local stores and boutiques selling products made by local designers and artists, you can find one-off items for yourself and as gifts to friends and family. Isn’t it worth paying more knowing that you own something that hasn’t been replicated by a machine thousands of times?
How You Can Support Your Local Businesses
- The first one is of course shopping local instead of ordering online or buying from large retailers. Yes, it may cost you more, but more of the money will come back to your community rather than go to large corporations.
- You can share the word about great local businesses on social media. Getting good reviews and recommendations online is much more valuable for small companies than they are for large international companies with established footholds on the market. If the local business has a social presence, you can also like, comment, and follow to support them.
- Tell your friends and family. For example, when you have friends and relatives coming to town, recommend a great local hotel or bed & breakfast for them. Take them for a meal at a local restaurant and shopping at the unique local shops.
- Instead of using a delivery service, order directly from the company and pick up your order yourself if possible. Delivery services charge the restaurants and cut into their profits. And if not possible to pick it up yourself, choose restaurants that have their own delivery service.
- Be a loyal customer. Local businesses will really appreciate your repeated custom. Many will also have loyalty systems such as every fifth coffee for free, or 10% off your tenth purchase. And even those who do not run any particular schemes will often surprise their loyal customers with a little gift or a freebie.
- You get better service from your local small businesses. Because they truly value you and cannot afford to lose you as a customer, they will want to make sure you are happy with the service or the product you are purchasing. And if you ever need to return anything, it will be a lot easier than having to send it back to an online retailer.
- It makes you feel better. Giving your hard-earned money to someone you know rather than a multimillion – or billion – global company, feels better. When you buy from a local business, you are directly contributing to their livelihood rather than enabling big companies to grow even bigger.
So, now you know both why you should and how you can support small local businesses. Hopefully, you will head out to the local shops rather than turn on the computer or travel downtown next time you need goods or services. Remember that supporting a small local business means supporting the local community and creating a wealthier neighbourhood for all.
About the Author: Chloe is a marketing coordinator and a proud Canadian. She’s a big believer in buying Canadian and urges everyone to check the label before buying. When she’s not working she’ll be playing with her Orange tabby of two years, Leila.