Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. When you support local businesses you are enriching your local economy and supporting your neighbors in their business endeavors.
Small businesses, local businesses, and "mom and pop" shops are any business or service that is owned by members of the local community.
This means that instead of being owned and run by a far away, large corporate entity, the business or service is owned and run by an individual who lives in your own town.
Why You Should Support Local Businesses
But supporting real people who live in your community isn't the only reason to shop local. There are immeasurable benefits to shopping locally.
Build Community Character
By shopping locally you can be a part of making your town more unique. Local small businesses add customized character to a community.
Rather than having generic restaurants and stores that every town has, your community can have it's own personalized flavors and products to choose from.
Support Your Neighbors
When you support local businesses you are also supporting your neighbors. These people might even include your friends or family. The small business owners and the workers they hire are usually all local people, so you aren't just supporting a local business, you are putting your money toward the people living in your own neighborhood.
Build a Stronger Community
When the businesses in your local community are owned by local people, then the community is run by the people who actually live there rather than large corporate entities run by people who live far away.
The people who live inside your community are the ones who know your community best. They are then more likely to help make corporate community decisions that are catered to what your town really needs.
Build a Rich Local Economy
A strong local economy is built on locally owned businesses that flourish. This is because everyone involved in the locally owned business is a local. So the cash flow that goes into the store then goes back into the local economy.
Rather than funding large chains that live and do their business far away, you can put your money into local businesses who will then put their money right back into your own community.
Reduce Local Pollution
Local businesses cause less pollution in many ways. The resources they use are often locally sourced, meaning large amounts of transportation (and thus more pollutants) aren't necessary to stock that local business.
Customers often need to travel less to get to local businesses as well. Instead of driving up to 30 minutes to get to the nearest supermarket, you could potentially walk or drive just 5 minutes to reach a local store.
Ideas for How to Support Small Businesses
Now that you know the reason behind why you want to support local businesses, you have the motivation and the drive to do so. But how do you start?
Below we'll go over all the many ways you can support your local business and help your local community thrive.
Stop Shopping Online
As online shopping grows it becomes easier and easier to get what you need by visiting a website instead of a store location. But shopping online is often detrimental to small businesses and thus your local economic growth and prosperity.
Stop shopping online and instead find the local business treasures in your community. Don't just stop with brick and mortar stores either. Many services can also be provided in your local areas rather than online like in-person tutoring, local tax preparation services, local direct lenders, and more!
Donate the Refund
Sometimes getting a refund for something you bought isn't avoidable. But there are occasions where something isn't the businesses fault, in which case, you might skip the reimbursement and consider that money a donation to a business you otherwise really like.
There are other instances, like buying tickets to a show, where you could instead resell the ticket or give it away to someone who can use it so that business doesn't lose out on the ticket sale or filling your seat for the show.
Many traditional financial advisors recommend not eating out as much as possible. But so long as that food money is within your budget, there's really no harm in eating out.
Instead of avoiding eating out altogether, support your local food places by putting eating out at local restaurants into your budget. You could eat out once a week or once a month and enjoy a fun night out while also supporting local restaurants.
If the restaurant has an app or a website, you can also support them digitally by making use of their online, delivery, or pick up services.
Buy Gift Cards
Gift cards can be used in so many ways. You can use them as a way to budget your shopping and keep yourself from overspending. You can also use gift cards as gifts.
Giving gift cards to local businesses to your friends is also a great way to get new customers to start frequenting locally owned stores and restaurants.
Tip as generously as you can when you eat at local restaurants. For some small businesses, the workers rely heavily on tips for their pay. Your generous tip will help keep those workers employed and help the business continue to flourish and boost the local economy.
Refer a Friend
Recommend local places to your friends and family. Word of mouth recommendations are literally the most effective type of marketing a local business could ever ask for.
Share your favorite local businesses to shop and eat at with those you care about and help that business's customer basis grow.
Post on Social Media
Use your social media reach to help build up a local business's customer basis. You might not be an influencer with millions of followers, but you probably do have a local network that follows you like your friends, family members, and coworkers.
You can also post on the business's social media accounts. You could leave a review, like and follow their page, gush about the great customer service, or share their page on your own social media account.
Leave a 5-Star Review
When you find a local business, service, or restaurant that you love, make sure you leave them a detailed 5-star review. Great reviews from satisfied customers are one of the key ways that more niche locations are able to bring in more customer traffic.
Be specific when you can, include pictures, directions to help others find the place and let others know why they should become patrons of this business too.
Edit Google Listings
Google business listings are one of the first places that many people go to learn more about a place before they visit.
If you notice that a business's google business information hasn't been uploaded or is incorrect, take a moment to make edit suggestions to Google.
Post the Directions
Sometimes local places can be hard to find. They can't always afford the prime real estate that bigger companies can. Take a moment to leave some directions on a review to help other potential customers more easily know how to get there.
Post the Menu
Share the menu online. Not all local food places will have the resources to provide digital copies of their menu. But many customers like to see what the options are before going to a new place.
When you visit a local food place, take a second to snap a photo of the menu and post it on a google review. You could even suggest your personal favorite menu item while you're at it.
Post the Product or Services List
Other local stores might not have a menu but they do have certain items that they offer. A store might sell a specific type of product. Help your fellow customers know what kind of goods and services they can expect to find by posting about them on a review or on social media.
Offer Your Services
If you have a special expertise that could help the business do better than offer those services to the business. Maybe you speak two languages and can help translate menu items so more customers can understand what each menu item includes.
Or maybe you are a marketer or social media manager and can help them advertise their business better or set up their own social media accounts.
Celebrate Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday (SBS) is a national holiday that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving every year. If your local community doesn't already celebrate it, then start a local community campaign to start the SBS tradition near you.
Start a Local Business Fair
Work alongside your community to start an annual local business fair. Local businesses can all put up stalls to introduce the community to their goods and services.
This could easily turn into a fun community fair that brings everyone together and spreads awareness about all the local goods and services your neighborhood offers.
Participate in community outreach by donating whatever you can to the local business you want to support. Some social media platforms even let you start an online fundraiser toward the cause of your choice if you want to invite your social media friends to support local businesses through their donations as well.
When you support a local business you are supporting your friends, family members, and neighbors. In a roundabout way, you are even supporting yourself.
Flourishing local businesses help their communities thrive with a better economy, environment, and sense of community.