I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of shopping locally. But you might not know why it’s so important, or how it can actually benefit your community. You also might not know how best to support your local businesses. I’m here to give you both information and tips on why and how to shop locally. This will in turn boost your local economy and strengthen your community.
Shopping Locally Helps Stimulate Your Local Economy.
When you buy from locally owned business rather than large corporations, more money is kept inside your community. If you buy something at a local shop, the people receiving your money are members of the community you live in. If they also shop locally, the money continues to circulate and boost other local businesses. This is important because oftentimes, huge nationally-owned corporations like Target, Walmart, and fast-food chains drive local businesses to extinction. When everybody shops at these large chains, local shops don’t make enough to survive. All the money being spent in the community goes directly into the pockets of the owners of these corporations. If you shop locally, however, the money you spend goes to your neighbors.
Stimulating Your Local Economy Improves Services in Your Community.
Did you know that many of the benefits and programs available to the public get their funding not from the national government, but from taxes of the people in the localities where they operate? Public schools is one of the most important examples of this. The funding for public schools is extremely disproportionate, because it comes from the taxes of the people only in that school district. Therefore, wealthier districts get more funding for their schools. By shopping locally, you are helping to enrich the members of your own community, which will in turn result in better services for that community—like more funding for your schools.
Local Businesses Provide Better Jobs.
This may come as a surprise, but local business—not big corporations—actually provide most new jobs. They are the largest employers nationally. Also, most nationally-owned stores like Walmart pay their employees minimum wage and provide minimal benefits. This is because these corporations are profit-driven, so their main goal is to make money. This requires spending as little as possible. In contrast, local businesses are owned by community members who know and care about the people they serve. They are more likely to pay a living wage and be understanding and considerate of their employees.
Shopping Locally is Better for the Environment.
Shopping at small local businesses can help reduce environmental impact. They are more likely to be downtown, allowing people to walk, bike, or drive shorter distances. Big stores like Target and fast-food chains are more likely to be on the outskirts of cities and towns, requiring people to travel farther to get there. Additionally, local businesses are likely to source their products or ingredients from places nearby, creating less emissions in product transportation. Big chains are probably shipping their products in from all over the world, creating a huge carbon footprint simply by transporting items that you could get from somebody nearby.
So How Can You Shop Locally?
There are many ways that you can support your community and stimulate the local economy by shopping locally. One easy way is to shop at your local farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets are automatically made up of local vendors. You can find some of the best, freshest produce at farmer’s markets, because since they are local, the food doesn’t have to travel a long distance to get to you. Farmer’s markets are also a great way to connect with your community, because you can talk face-to-face with the people selling to you.
If you don’t have a farmer’s market, you can still shop locally for pretty much any good or service. Next time you feel like going to Panera Bread or Starbucks, find a locally-owned coffee shop instead. Feel like a burger? Go to a locally-owned restaurant instead of McDonald’s. Need to grocery shop? See if your community has a Co-op. Co-ops sell produce and goods from local farmers and vendors, providing one centralized store for local sellers rather than each person trying to market their goods on their own. You can also do a quick search of which stores in your community are locally-owned. You might even find businesses you didn’t know about! All of these are great ways to boost your community, help your neighbors, be kinder to the environment, and in most cases, even get a better quality product.