May 7, 2021
Small businesses are a valuable part of every community. They provide opportunities for entrepreneurship, creativity, and growth in our very own neighborhoods.
Shopping at your closest brand-name grocery store or using Amazon for all your purchases may be the easier option. But you can just as easily support local businesses that are working hard to compete with bigger chain stores.
Here's how to make a difference.
Create a mental list of what you shop for every day at big-name stores — like Walmart, Target, or Amazon. Chances are, with a little research or a drive around town, you can find a local option for most everything on that list. Here are a few examples:
- Hardware: Sunday mornings at Home Depot can get pretty crowded. Try your local hardware store around the corner to skip the lines and get more specialized advice.
- Prescriptions: Local pharmacies exist — and they have their perks. Independent pharmacies have the opportunity to be more customer-focused and readily available to answer your health questions.
- Produce: Farmer's markets are a perfect opportunity to shop locally made products, get fresher fruits and vegetables, and put money back into your community.
- Clothing: Your town likely has a local boutique where they sell unique clothes or handmade jewelry. Take advantage of these stores for gift-giving or treat yourself.
Even if it's just a few items here and there, checking things off your list by shopping small is a lot easier than you may think.
Many small businesses have pivoted to provide customers with online shopping options — whether this means ordering online and picking it up yourself or getting delivery. With the ability to shop online, just like you would at your regular chain store, supporting small businesses is that much easier.
Not only can you buy products online, but local businesses are beginning to offer services online as well. Your local gyms, yoga studios, wineries, breweries, and theaters — through tools like Instagram or Facebook live videos — can host live workouts, shows, or tastings online. Often times you can join these live videos for free or on a donation basis.
With plenty of online options available, you can refer people that live out of state to your local businesses' website or event. That local business will then receive money and support from all over.
Ordering delivery from your favorite restaurants is just as great as eating out but without the hassle. Make sure to tip a little extra for the business' time and care bringing you your food.
You can also use third-party apps for food delivery — like Grub Hub, Door Dash, Uber Eats, or Slice. You are still supporting your local businesses through these apps and you'll occasionally get lucky with coupons or faster delivery times.
And, as always, takeout is an option. Plan a movie night in and go grab your favorite food from your local restaurant before pressing play.
Buy Gifts for Yourself and Others
Sending your friends and family a gift card for a local business will give them a head start to shop small. And if it's someone's birthday, you're checking two items off your list.
Another unique way to shop and promote local businesses is through merchandise or "swag." Buy a t-shirt, for yourself or a friend, with your favorite shop's logo on it. Buying it is money made and wearing it is free advertising for the local business.
Support Small Businesses for Free
There are ways you can support your local businesses free of charge. If the business has an online or social media presence — Yelp, Instagram, Facebook, Google — here are some ways to support for free:
- Write a positive review. Positive reviews entice others in the community to try out the local businesses.
- Follow social media accounts and share posts. Social media is key for small businesses and sharing posts may bring in more business.
- Rate the business. Leaving a good rating will boost the business and keep customers coming.
Word of mouth also goes a long way and is completely free. Refer your friends and family to small businesses that you enjoy shopping with.
You'll find that your money goes a lot further when shopping small. The funds make their way back into the community in different ways — like job growth, environmental support, and charitable efforts.
If you've never shopped small before, these simple tips will have you on your way. If you're a regular local shopper, keep on supporting and continuing to refer your friends and family.
Local businesses are here for you, so start returning the favor.
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