You’re always encouraged to shop locally, but do you know why? According to Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, supporting local business comes with 10 important benefits that everyone should care about:
- Keeping money in the local economy
- Fueling entrepreneurship
- Strengthening communities through sustaining town centers and connecting neighborhoods
- Creating more local jobs and providing better wages than corporate chains
- Increasing environmental sustainability
- Diversifying product selection
- Boosting healthy competition to keep prices low and innovation high
- Keeping infrastructure costs low
- Empowering local decision-making
- Maintaining local character and prosperity
This long list poses far more attractive benefits than shopping online or visiting the mall. Though you may think that you’re more likely to score deals on clothing and groceries at larger retail shops, buying locally can help you save big, too! Here’s how:
Farmers markets offer affordable produce
Why you’ll love it: Farmers markets are an experience of their own. Seeing the community flourish and flock to a single space to purchase their baked bread and fresh fruits matched with the many sights, smells, and sounds of the bustle warm the heart.
Understanding where your food comes from is something that is lost on shoppers who tend to gravitate toward buying their fresh foods from supermarket chains. Meeting the farmers behind your kale and sausage links grants an experience that bridges the gap between you and your food. Have faith knowing your fruits and veggies are fresh, and the farmer behind them treats every bundle, stalk, and sprout with care.
How you’ll save: The vast majority of shoppers associate words like “local” and “organic” with expensive price tags that drive them away from farmers markets and back into chain food suppliers. Studies have shown that prices at farmers markets tend to be cheaper or equal to chain supplier prices. Considering the fact that locally grown foods are fresher and hold more nutritional value, you get more bang for your buck from a farmer’s market selection.
Local businesses are more likely to negotiate a price
Why you’ll love it: Negotiating prices at big-box stores and online retailers is near impossible unless you’re dealing with an item that has a defect or imperfection. Local businesses tend to be more open to negotiating prices, especially when they have inventory that they’re trying to push out. Small, local businesses typically have tight chains of command, so the likelihood of you negotiating directly with the owner is high.
How you’ll save: By asking for a better deal on a product, you can save money simply because you asked. It is incredibly important to toe the line between thoughtful haggling and low-balling, though, because a low-ball offer could leave a sour taste in the business owner’s mouth. Be wary of devaluing something you want in hopes of scoring a dirt-cheap deal.
Negotiation comes in many forms! Say you’re on the market for a new VW near you. A local car dealership may be more inclined to offer a lower price to a local resident than an outside shopper. The same goes for a number of local service and product providers.
Regulars earn perks
Why you’ll love it: If there’s a specific coffee shop around the corner that makes the best dirty chai lattes, make yourself a regular with daily or weekly visits. After a few visits, you’ll begin to build a relationship with the employees and your favorite order will be made promptly the moment you step in. With “regular” status comes heightened customer services and plenty of yummy perks.
How you’ll save: It’s incredibly common for small business owners to reward their regular clients with unique discounts and perks that keep them coming back. Owners want to let their most loyal buyers know that their patronage is appreciated, so by offering special deals to regulars, they strengthen the relationships and stay in business.
Ask your favorite local shop if they offer any free samples or referral bonuses to earn yourself bigger discounts!
Local shops and businesses are typically dependent on the relationships they build with other local business and the communities they inhabit. By supporting local businesses, you can save big, support your local economy, and make a few valuable friendships on the way!