Small businesses are the backbones of our communities. Not only do they have a positive impact on the local economy, but they add charm and character to our neighbourhoods.
You may already know that the dollars you spend locally stay within the community. This is known as the multiplier effect. A local business is more likely to spend the money you give them back in the community. That money helps other entrepreneurs grow their businesses and strengthens the economy for everyone.
For example, if you order a bike helmet online through a big-box retailer, those dollars are likely to never return to your community. What happens if you decide to purchase the same helmet at a locally owned bike store in town? The bike shop owner uses those dollars to pay for his child’s swimming lessons at your local community centre. The community centre uses the money from swimming lessons to maintain its pools and host free events for the neighbourhood. This cycle of purchasing is the multiplier effect in action.
Added up, small businesses have a significant impact. They account for almost 42% of our GDP and 65.3% of all jobs.
Supporting local is good for the environment, too. By switching to purchasing locally, you help limit the environmental impact of international delivery, not to mention the excessive quantity of packaging that goes into shipping a product.
There is no doubt how important supporting local is, especially when you consider how hard the economic impact has been as a result of the pandemic. Ready to shift your spending habits? Here are four ways you can support local businesses. They are simple and easily adopted into your lifestyle, so there’s no excuse why you can’t start today!
To support local, you need to get to know what’s in your area. The best way is by walking or biking through your neighbourhood. You’ll be surprised by how much you can miss if you’re driving by in a car. Make a day of it; visit some old favourites, wander into a new store, get to know the owners, and make a mental note of stores that may come in handy when you need them.
You can also check out a local business directory, including business associations, BIAs, and the Chamber of Commerce. They may offer a map of businesses in your area. Talk to your neighbours or friends in your community for recommendations before ordering something online or purchasing it from a big-box store.
You can also google whatever it is you’re looking for and often local businesses will pop up. Most businesses, even the small ones in your area, have an online presence and function as e-commerce shops too.
When people think of shopping locally, their mind goes right to brick-and-mortar shops. But many local businesses rely solely on e-commerce. Sites like Yelp, Etsy, Shopify are all great resources to connect you with a company that is 100% online.
Many local businesses have embraced e-commerce or take orders over the phone. Before you order online from a national chain, see if you can get it locally. They may deliver for free or for a small fee.
Try finding the Instagram or Facebook profiles of some of your local shops or eateries, you’ll be surprised by how digitally savvy some of the smallest shops are. Give them a follow and share the word with your friends and family.
It can be easy to stick to a big-box grocery store, but your neighbourhood farmer’s market may just have what you are looking for (and it’s probably much fresher!). Farmer’s markets are an excellent source for high-quality produce, meat, and dairy products. Plus, the money you spend goes directly back to supporting these local farmers.
While at the market, be on the lookout for a community-supported agriculture program. Think of it as pre-paying a local farmer for your groceries. You pay up-front and pick up your weekly share of produce throughout the growing season. It is a win-win for you and the farmer or producer. You get all the veggies you need, and they get the capital they need for the year. If you can’t find a CSA at the farmer’s market, check online for one near you.
Don’t feel like cooking tonight? Instead of a fast-food chain, consider eating or ordering from a locally owned restaurant. They are more likely to use fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and since most of the food is prepped in-house, they have more flexibility when it comes to accommodating food restrictions or preferences. Many small independent eateries are now available on popular food delivery apps – like UberEats, DoorDash, and SkipTheDishes – making it easier than ever to discover local flavours in just a few clicks!
Be sure to spread the local love. Whether it’s the best fish tacos you’ve ever had, some new shoes you want to show off, or a spectacular floral arrangement, be sure to share your local finds on social media. It only takes a moment of your time, but the gesture is a great way to market small businesses. Word of mouth is a powerful tool for helping your favourite local spots out. Be sure to tag them; they’ll love to hear from you.
Take an extra step and write an online review, especially if you’re pleased with your product or service. Google reviews help local businesses get found online.
Local businesses are invested in the wellbeing of your community and are more likely to divert charitable giving to local causes and initiatives. Therefore, the money you invest in these businesses helps your community grow, supporting the services you and your neighbours rely on. Support local and you can have a thriving community.