Want to Support Your Community? Try Shopping!

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Want to Support Your Community? Try Shopping!
Want to Support Your Community? Try Shopping!

Looking for an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon while supporting your community and the economy as a whole? Go shopping.

When consumers shop locally, their communities benefit in multiple ways. More money stays in the area and more local jobs are created. In addition, thriving local economies tend to have stronger infrastructures and lower crime rates. According to Independent We Stand, a movement of independent business owners across the country designed to inform their communities about the importance of shopping locally:

Locally owned businesses reinvest in the local economy at a 60% higher rate than chains and Internet retailers.

For every $100 spent at an independent business, $68 returns to the local community. At a national chain, that amount drops to $43.

Small businesses represent more than 99.7% of all employers and account for 75% of all new jobs.

Many small business owners recognize the importance of the “Shop Local” movement to their business growth. In a recent survey by Constant Contact, 51% of respondents said they felt that being locally owned and operated is a major reason why customers support their business today—up from the 42% who thought it was a major reason five years ago.

To that end, consumers might do well to check out their local merchants before buying products online or from a chain store. Many independent businesses will offer competitive pricing or match an online price, saving consumers both shipping charges and delivery time. Local merchants provide personal service and may offer specials to their loyal customers. Get to know the small business owners in your community and you may find yourself “in the know” for sales and new products before the rest of the crowd.

See if your favorite local businesses have Facebook pages, and like them if they do. It's a great way to learn about new product offerings and sale dates. Many even hold contests with great prizes.

Here are seven easy ways to help you start shopping locally:

1. Stop by an independently owned coffee shop for your morning coffee or tea. Often, these places also sell goodies from local bakeries.

2. Buy fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at your neighborhood farmers markets. Many also have freshly baked breads and pastries, local honey, and homemade crafts.

3. Skip the chain restaurants and try a family-owned local eatery or a smaller, independent restaurant.

4. Buy pet food and supplies from independent pet food stores, whose owners are often more knowledgeable and more invested in their business than chain store employees, and can help you find the best products for your furry friends.

5. Encourage others to shop locally by giving gift cards from local businesses as gifts for weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions.

6. Keep in mind that while many franchises are national or regional brands, specific locations are often independently or locally owned.

7. Consider going to a local shop to buy stocking stuffers for your friends and family this holiday season.

Are you a business owner? Encourage community members to shop locally by providing competitive prices and excellent personal service, and by showing your local customers how much you appreciate them. In addition, you can support other local businesses by shopping with them, referring customers, and partnering with them to offer specials to the community.

Brad Smith is EVP of customer experience at Sage North America. He toured the U.S. this summer in a Sage-branded RV encouraging people to shop local #SageShopLocal.

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