As national brand chains and big box stores converge on cities and shoppers flock to them, business is lost at the smaller stores selling similar products.
The national chains have done due diligence and set pricing just right in order to undercut locally owned shops in their quest to convert shoppers. They can afford lower pricing because they are able to purchase in bulk. The small merchant appears to be overcharging, but often they are merely covering their costs. When the big-box stores become successful at monopolizing the area, they then raise their prices.
While the damage to smaller, locally owned businesses is not always obvious, the cost is high. For every job a national retailer brings to a city, other jobs are lost when a local business has to close down and let its employees go.
Every time we choose to purchase online, a local supplier is left without that revenue, revenue he needs to pay his overhead. Revenue he needs to stay open.
When we shop at national chains or online, we don’t contribute to our local economy. Instead our money leaves town and settles in the coffers of the out-of- town retailer.
When businesses can’t stay afloat, there is a trickle effect. Not only are the businesses and services they were using now affected, but the personal shopping habits of their employees also change. Hair salons, restaurants, and other services that people can no longer afford become at risk. Real estate is affected as some small business owners need to declare bankruptcy, have their homes foreclosed on, or pack up and move out of town to try again in another location.
There are many reasons to choose to shop at locally owned and operated independent retailers:
They create an identity for your city. Supporting them preserves the character of your community. Local artisans have venues in which to sell unique creations, making your community a destination place for tourists. Tourists bring outside money into the community.
When you shop at a locally owned retailer, your money stays in town keeping businesses open and locals employed.
Shopping locally sustains a good retail mix, keeping the community from looking like a no-man’s land when developments become abandoned.
The businesses feed the economy with purchases of products and services from local firms, growers, artisans, and service companies. National chains have corporate purchasing departments in another city.
The money earned creates tax revenue for your community, keeping your personal taxes lower.
Promoting locally-owned businesses is an investment in entrepreneurship. Stimulating innovation fuels the economy. It’s important to create ongoing opportunities for business-minded young people to flourish, and family-run businesses to continue to provide personalized service.
Locally owned small businesses have well-trained staff and invested owners that are interested in keeping your business and their reputation. They know their products and want to help you find what you need.
Your local shop owner may be more knowledgeable about local regulations that would be important for you to know, and may be more up-to-speed on products that fit your specific geography, climate and culture.
You can usually get a recommendation from friends in town who can vouch for the products or services provided by locally owned businesses.
Supporting local businesses keeps your community from getting stuck in a position where the only choice for purchases is online or in a big-box store. This is already apparent in the closure of small bookstores that have faced giants like Amazon and Indigo, who are able to offer lower prices, as well as the convenience of shopping from home. Reducing shopping to big box locations actually may reduce the selection available as you become hostage to only the products they choose to carry.