When you visit a new city or town, where do you usually go first? If you’re like most people, you want to check out their downtown or town center.
Walking down the quaint streets, it’s easy to imagine yourself frequenting a local cafe or restaurant, getting your hair or nails down at the salon just over there, or meeting friends for drinks at the bar on the corner. It gives us a view into the lives of locals and what it might be to live in this new place.
Now imagine if the place you were visiting didn’t have a unique town center, just a strip mall filled with large chains you can find anywhere. Imagine if your city or town was the same. What would make this town different from yours, or any other?
The uniqueness, the charm, the diversity, the vibrancy, the sense of community - these are all reasons why we shop at and support small and local businesses. Not just in our own home towns, but all over the world. It’s what makes where we live special!
If that wasn’t enough, here are a few more reasons to support small and local businesses:
Small businesses give back
According to Civil Economics, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 will stay in the community. When shopping at a national chain, only $43 stays in the community.
The money that stays in the community helps with local development. This multiplier effect is clear when you look at a restaurant buying ingredients from local producers, or from local retailers hiring local insurance or accounting firms to help with their business. These mutually beneficial relationships allow the entire community to thrive.
Not only does money spent at small and local businesses infuse cash into local economies directly, but small businesses are also very active in their communities. Small businesses donate 250% more than larger companies to local nonprofits and charitable organizations.
Community cultivation and job creation
Small businesses create jobs for millions of Americans, nearly 60 million in fact! A large presence of businesses in a community provides on the job training for millions of Americans, even empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Small businesses also contribute to the heart of communities. Business owners are active - they sit on boards, they make their opinions heard in town meetings, they are a strong and powerful voice for the community. Town centers become a gathering place for merchants, businesses, and local government - all of them working together to preserve the character of our hometowns.
Diversity and culture
Business owners come from all walks of life. It’s their stories, their skills, their passions that drive them to be entrepreneurs. As citizens, we benefit from this diversity by being exposed to unique and new things - from amazing new food, beautiful home decor, or just good conversation from someone who’s lived a fascinating life.
A diverse and vibrant town also drives up the appeal of that community. This increases foot traffic and shopping, which in turn attracts tourism. That effect carries over into hotels, tours, and other attractions.
Creating hometown legends
When was the last time you stood in line for over an hour waiting to get a Krispy Kreme donut? I’d guess probably never. But getting up early to stand in line to get one of the limited and coveted maple bacon donuts from the local donut shop? Probably more likely!
Nearly every town has that one business where customers stand in line for hours to buy what they’re selling. The more we support small businesses in our communities, the more of those amazing places we’ll cultivate - and the more bragging rights we’ll have about it on social media 😁.
Top notch customer service & higher quality items
When you’re small, every customer matters. The relationships those merchants form with their customers can be the difference between thriving or closing down. When you’re a giant department store, you can survive by the sheer volume of what you sell. But when you’re a small business, your scale is much smaller, so you need to work that much harder to stand out and earn loyal customers.
The other way small businesses aim to win our dollars is by producing higher quality items. Oftentimes, these handmade items are one-of-a-kind and take hours, or even days, to create. No matter what it is, the end result is the same - getting a far superior item with far superior service to match.
A move towards sustainability
Small businesses often make their own products, or partner with small batch manufacturers for their goods. These close ties to nearby manufacturers leave a smaller carbon footprint. Items don't need to be sent far distances or mass produced overseas.
Also, when you buy from a local business, you can pick up your items, rather than having them shipped. This reduces shipping waste and greatly reduces our carbon emissions and paves the way for a more sustainable planet.
Small businesses can save our communities. When small businesses do well, so do our communities, and that trickles down to our day to day lives. Tell us what you’re doing to keep your communities thriving - we’d love to hear from you!
And while you're at it, sign our Save Small Businesses pledge and let the world know you are a Small Business Champion!
Find us on social media