Tag: shop local

The Various Advantages to Shopping Locally

Residents of a given town or city are often encouraged to support local businesses by looking to these firms to fill their needs. Small businesses are not just integral parts of communities, employing millions across the country, they also are operations that fund the very communities they service.

Efforts to promote shopping local appear to be working. According to the Commonwealth Financial Group, over the last several years there has been a shift in consumer purchasing behavior marked by a preference among consumers to support locally owned shops and stores over big-box retailers and even online shopping. The following are some key reasons why shopping locally not only benefits small business owners, but also the communities they call home and the customers they serve.

• More money stays in the community: According to the American Independent Business Alliance, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remains in the community. Conversely, only 43 percent of every $100 spent at a chain retailer stays in the community.

• Job creation: The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies says local businesses create the majority of economic growth. They employ millions of Americans by creating roughly two-thirds of private sector jobs. Local business owners also tend to hire people who represent the demographics of the communities where the business is located, which may include historically underserved populations.

• Diversity of products: Local stores tend to diversify their products and services to meet the needs of the local communities, whereas chain stores often stock their shelves based on national demands.

• Personalized service: A small business owner may be more inclined to go to great lengths to make customers happy because the long-term success of the business depends on customers becoming repeat customers.

• Personal connection: Knowing the people behind a business facilitates a connection not easily achieved with other companies. Customers may celebrate when a favorite business succeeds and look to spread the word about that business because they feel like they played a positive role in its success.

Shopping locally has gained momentum and is fueled by the many advantages to supporting local businesses.

Shopping Locally is Now More Crucial Than Ever

The importance of shopping locally has been emphasized with increasing urgency in recent years. Events like Small Business Saturday and Plaid Friday have brought some much-needed attention to the importance of shopping local, which is even more crucial now as so many small businesses try to survive the pandemic.

A poll from the trade group the National Federation of Independent Business reported that about half of all the businesses in the survey reported a 25 percent drop in sales since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, and roughly one in five businesses have seen sales decline by more than 50 percent. If the economic climate does not radically improve, 20 percent of small businesses won’t survive.

According to NBC News, small businesses employ 60 million people in the United States, almost half of the nation’s private-sector employees. In addition, small businesses generate tax revenues that help communities by funding schools, maintaining parks and contributing to public safety programs. However, based on research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, even before COVID-19 spread across the world, only 20 percent of healthy small businesses had sufficient cash reserves to continue to operate if they experienced a revenue loss for two months. Some have been shuttered for much longer. Individuals looking for everything from clothing to home improvement services to office supplies can look to small businesses to fill those needs.

• Look for small businesses for any and all of your shopping needs. Chances are items sold by big box retailers also are sold by small businesses. When the options are the same or similar, purchase from a small business instead of its big box competitor.

• Readily provide recommendations of small businesses with which you have done business. Too often people are quick to complain about places that have failed them, but those same people don’t think to say kind words about companies that went above and beyond. Share great experiences on social media or through word of mouth.

• Talk to small businesses owners first if you have an issue. It’s tempting to go directly to social media to complain about something, but such complaints can have a dire impact. Always take issues to the manager or business owner first to see if a resolution can be reached. A manager may not be aware of an issue at all. Give small businesses a chance to make it right before taking things public.

• If you own a small business, rely on other small businesses to fulfill your needs. Order supplies from fellow small business owners, seek the help of local financial advisors and tax professionals and use local suppliers and delivery personnel.

Small businesses have experienced unprecedented setbacks due to COVID-19. By supporting small businesses, communities can help them regain stable footing.

The Fabric of Plaid Friday

The holiday season sometimes arrives with a frenetic pace. At the dawn of the holiday season, there seems to be so much to fit into a relatively short period of time, including planning celebrations and shopping. The rush often begins the Friday after American Thanksgiving on a day called Black Friday. Plaid Friday was born out of a recognition that the frenzied nature of Black Friday may not be for everyone. The event was created in Oakland, Calif., to transform holiday shopping for family and friends into a more connected, pleasurable activity than Black Friday. Plaid Friday promotes the diversity and creativity of local and independent businesses. On Plaid Friday, customers are urged to shop locally and enjoy choosing gifts in a more leisurely fashion.

According to event organizers, the name “Plaid Friday” was chosen from the idea of weaving individual threads of small businesses together to create a strong fabric that celebrates independent businesses. While Plaid Friday may have originated in California, it has now spread to local towns across the country. Plaid Friday precedes Small Business Saturday, meaning holiday shoppers can turn their two-day, post-Thanksgiving shopping excursions into 48 hours of opportunities to support small businesses. Shoppers have many different ways to support the Plaid Friday movement.

• Look for signage or social media advertising regarding Plaid Friday. Many establishments may advertise Plaid Friday sales. Keep an eye out for signs or hashtags on social media, such as #plaidfriday, #shoplocal and #dinelocal.

• Let others know you’re supporting local businesses. Spread the word about Plaid Friday to others who may not be aware of the movement.

• Wear plaid clothing on Plaid Friday to show local business solidarity.

• Search community blotters and other local websites to find out more about Plaid Friday efforts in your community.

• Certain shops may have scaled-back sales due to COVID-19 restrictions. Continue to support these businesses as much as possible, taking advantage of curbside pickup or delivery options that can further streamline holiday shopping.

• Explore new offerings. Some businesses you frequently shop with may have altered their services and products to fit the changing times. As a result, you may be able to purchase a greater variety of items all in one store.

Local shopping is at the heart of Plaid Friday. Shoppers who want to avoid the typical rush of Black Friday shopping can visit small local businesses.

How to Support Local Agriculture this Fall

The global pandemic that has upended daily life has exacted a toll on many industries. Businesses have been asked to close or temporarily scale back operations, while organizers of recreational gatherings have been tasked with reevaluating the practicality and safety of annual events.

Throughout the United States and Canada, autumn fairs, exhibitions and activities provide revenue for many people. But due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, many of these annual events have been postponed, adversely affecting local agricultural industries as a result. Governments in certain places have responded to the cancellations and offered assistance to local farmers and agricultural industries. For example, the Province of Ontario is providing nearly $1 million to assist organizations that had to cancel fall events due to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to supporting such efforts, the general public can pitch in to help offset some of the financial losses accrued by local farms.

Check for virtual events. Some fall fairs or livestock events have been moved to the digital realm. That means competitors who were entering livestock or even home crafts into competitions can still participate. Organizers may ask for videos or photos of entries and then a committee will vote on the winners. This is one way to keep entry fees and even cash prizes moving along.

Support local farms or orchards. Fall is harvest season in many areas, making this a popular time of year to visit nearby farms and to purchase fruits and vegetables directly from the source. Many farms have implemented safety protocols that align with COVID-19 health recommendations to safely welcome visitors. Things may look a little differently at orchards and farms, but smaller crowds and wearing masks should not compromise the fun of picking your own foods.

Explore farm-to-table. Private individuals as well as restaurant owners can develop relationships with area agriculture producers to increase the availability of farm-to-table offerings. Restaurants can revamp menus to include a greater share of items sourced from nearby farms. Individuals also can rely on produce stands and farmers’ markets to stock their pantries. Some farms may offer delivery and mail-order as well.

Offer financial services. Financial advisors can help farmers who are struggling with finances work through their options. Institutions may be able to extend the terms of loan repayments, refinance loans, restructure debt, or get credit extensions. Lower interest rates have created some new opportunities farmers may not be aware of. Financial advisors can help farmers navigate an uncertain financial time.

Farmers and agricultural organizations are facing greater challenges as fall fairs and other events are being canceled. The public can support agriculture in different ways to offset the financial losses stemming from the pandemic.

The Benefits of Hiring Local Wedding Vendors

Local vendors are often a go-to choice when couples are planning their wedding ceremonies and receptions. As the “shop local” movement grows in popularity, weddings present a prime opportunity to embrace this movement. Couples may have different ideas regarding where to tie the knot, but local vendors can be hired regardless of geography. Brides magazine says the biggest factor influencing wedding location is the size of the guest list and the number of people who wouldn’t be able to attend if the wedding was in a particular locale. Hometowns might be the traditional choice regarding wedding location, but the XO Group says one in four couples now host destination weddings. Once couples choose a town or city to host their weddings, they can begin exploring the benefits of working with locally-based vendors.

Familiarity

Local vendors will be familiar with the area and possibly even the location where the wedding will be held. That can help couples avoid having to give directions, discuss venue protocols, and handle other tasks that must be worked out with non-local vendors. For example, local photographers familiar with a particular venue will know all of the best places to get shots, and some vendors may have preexisting relationships with venue representatives that could ensure wedding day operations go smoothly.

Proximity

Local vendors can meet with brides and grooms more readily throughout the planning process, making things less stressful on the happy couple. This also makes it easier to drop off deposits, attend meetings, make fitting appointments, or attend styling sessions.

Savings

Couples who travel for their weddings and employ local vendors will not have to pack as much. Using local vendors eliminates the need to bring along bulky dresses, decorative items, flowers, and much more. Plus, couples needn’t pay to transport and house vendors brought along from back home.

Environment

Individuals who take great strides to conserve resources by reducing their energy consumption and protecting the environment often find that shopping local is beneficial. Local vendors are more likely to source their materials from other local businesses, reducing their carbon footprints along the way. For example, local caterers may rely on local farmers for their foods, affording couples the chance to host eco-friendly or even farm-to-table weddings.