Small-scale, locally owned businesses create communities that are more prosperous, connected, and generally better-off across a wide range of metrics. When we buy from independent, locally owned businesses, rather than national chains, a significantly greater portion of our money is then cycled back through our local economy — to make purchases from our friends’ businesses, to aid our neighbors in need, and to support our local farms — ultimately strengthening the base of our whole community.
In recent years, a movement has begun. It’s a movement that takes consumers away from large, impersonal big-box retailers and introduces them to the people doing business in their very own cities. These are local farmers, craftsmen, antiques dealers, and other product providers, with items made locally and sold on a small scale.
When a consumer supports his local business owners, he enjoys benefits he can’t possibly get from shopping at national chains. Here are some top reasons to support your local entrepreneurs.
1. Improve your family’s health
Buying local foods has numerous health benefits to your family. When you buy from local farmers, you have access to fruits and vegetables that you know are chemical free, as well as grass-fed meats, fresh eggs, and dairy from cows that feast on local green grass each day. There are also benefits to eating raw local honeys, which are thought to help battle allergies.
Related: How the Farm-to-Table Movement Is Helping Grow the Economy
2. Improve the local economy
When a consumer buys local, significantly more of that money stays in the community. In fact, one Chicago study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city while only $43 of each $100 spent at a chain retailer.
Local business owners often have incentive to support other local businesses, patronizing local establishments for both business and personal reasons. Chain businesses, on the other hand, tend to get their supplies from corporate, as well as having store managers and employees that aren’t as personally invested in buying local.
3. Know the people behind the product
When you personally know the people behind the business where you’re buying local products and services, you enjoy a connection you would not otherwise have. Along with the rest of the community, you celebrate when a favorite local business succeeds and you mourn when it’s forced to shut its doors. This personal investment isn’t quite as present when a chain business closes, aside from feeling disappointment that you have fewer businesses within convenient driving distance.
4. Keep your community unique
Local businesses give a community its flavor. Towns across America have similar chain restaurants, grocery and department stores but that diner down the street where you have breakfast every Saturday morning is one-of-a-kind. The combined presence of your town’s many local businesses makes it different from every other city in the world. By supporting those businesses instead of chains, you ensure that uniqueness is preserved as a part of your community.
5. Better customer service
If you’ve ever dealt with a large corporation, you know getting help can be a nightmare. You’ll call a 1-800 number, only to be transferred seven times and put on hold. Even when you speak to a customer service representative, that person is so far removed from the decision-making process, there’s little concern that the company will lose you as a customer.
When you shop local, the business owner is usually directly connected to every employee in the store. That leads to a personal approach that often means any problem you have is taken seriously.
6. More personalized service
Having the owner nearby also means that owner personally knows his customers. He knows the products you buy or the services you request on a regular basis and can tailor services to make your experience even better. A local gardening shop owner may learn about a new product on the market that can help you with a pest control problem you mentioned on one of your visits, for instance, and can order that product as part of his selections.
Buying local has benefits beyond mere convenience. When you support local business owners, you get a better level of service, as well as helping make your community a better place to live. This is in addition to the health benefits and access to unique products that you usually can’t find with chain locations.