2 min read
A sign that promotes buying local with the words Think Big Shop Small on it.

People often see the terms shop local or buy small used in different advertisements, including on bumper stickers and in-store signs. These terms are also widely observed on Small Business Saturday, a shopping day held the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Beyond the feel-good nature of supporting neighborhood businesses, shopping locally creates real and sustainable economic growth for communities. This is because of money concepts, such as circulation and velocity. Essentially, when you shop local, your money stays local. Shopping locally affects everything from employee wages and new job creation to the overall growth of a local economy.

Local Dollars

Sustainable Connections, an organization that focuses on building local communities, adds another interesting twist to shopping locally. According to their website, “Locally owned businesses make more local purchases—requiring less transportation—and set up shop in town or city centers, which generally means less sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.”

In addition, the Urban Conservatory’s study, Thinking Outside the Box: A Report on Independent Merchants and the Local Economy, found that if people shifted 10 percent of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would create hundreds of millions of dollars a year in local economic activity. This is due in part to local and independent businesses that tend to source and hire vendors that are also independent. Many national and international chains outsource most of their jobs to other communities.

Local Job Creation

Local businesses not only support other local companies, but they are more effective at creating local jobs when compared to national chains. When national chains move into a neighborhood, local jobs are often lost. Furthermore, small businesses owned by minorities or people of color are more likely to hire from within their communities, creating more jobs for groups more affected by unemployment. Shopping at small local businesses will directly support equitable job creation in local cities and towns.

Better Customer Service

Have you ever shopped at a local store or ordered something online from a small business? Chances are you received warm service, hand-wrapped products, and a unique touch you may not find in national chains. On YouTube, for example, small business owners have gone viral for their packing-orders videos. These videos showcase the care and attention that goes into each purchase they process. In addition, these vendors add handwritten notes and thank you letters with each packaged order.

How to Find Local Businesses

  • Check your local Chamber of Commerce directory
  • Use social media platforms to find businesses in your area
  • Search for your city or state on online commerce sites to find small business owners that create products near you
  • Take a stroll through downtown, main street, or other commercial corridors and spot storefronts in your city that are new and unique.

Can’t Find What You Need Locally?

Online commerce makes it possible to buy almost anything you can think of, including clothing, home items, custom gifts, and food. Online platform sales have skyrocketed for local businesses since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while it is often easier to buy local items online, it still doesn’t beat the in-person experience you get when visiting a local business.