Now I'm not typically one for keeping up with trends, but when the trend is better for the environment, independent business owners, and communities as a whole, I will happily jump on the bandwagon! The shop local trend is growing so steadily that it's become a movement; one that I strongly suggest you join. Why? We'll get to that in just a minute, but first, it's important to answer a frequently asked question: What exactly does shopping local mean?
For instance, if you go the Walgreen's or McDonald's down the street, are you shopping local? Not quite. There's a difference between a nationally-owned business (Walgreens, McDonald's etc.) and an independent-owned business (Ma and Pa shops). According to Wikipedia, when you buy local, it means that you're purchasing goods that were made in your community versus those produced further away. However, the way that I view shopping local takes a slightly wider approach and focuses on supporting independent makers and artisans as a whole, even if they're not from my own city.
So why does this matter you ask? Here are six reasons why you should jump on the shop local bandwagon:
1. Supports Entrepreneurship. As a business owner myself, I Love supporting other passionate artisans and makers because I understand that I'm supporting their dreams and that every purchase counts. When communities embrace independent businesses versus national chains, it encourages more people to follow their dreams and launch their own businesses, thus supporting entrepreneurship. This not only helps make communities unique, but also offers us consumers a multitude of choices, rather than the redundancy of national chains ;)
2. Builds Connections. Shopping from independent businesses allows us to get to know the makers of our goods, which helps us build connections with artisans and allows us an opportunity to purchase with purpose. While there will always be an appeal to the ease and efficiency (quick turnaround times) of buying off sites like Amazon, the lack of real customer service and a face-to-face connection can make us numb to the purchases we're making. There's something special about being able to meet the makers of our goods and store owners personally, and learning their stories, that I feel helps me be a more conscious consumer.
3. Personalized Service. Not to mention higher quality service! One of my favorite things about buying from independent stores is the personalized service I get with each purchase, such as recommendations for products that are better for me or more aligned with my values that I might not have known about. There's also the added benefit of being able to try products out firsthand before committing to a purchase or the hassle of mailing back returns ;)
4. Real Expertise. Most independent businesses are passionate about what they do and in turn love educating and connecting with their customers. This not only gives us an opportunity to gain expert knowledge about the products we are buying, but it also encourages us to think deeper about where our products are coming from and how they are made.
5. Supports Local Economies. Studies have shown that when you shop independent businesses, more of your money is used to support other local shops and services, which helps strengthen the community's economic base as a whole. Independent business owners are also more invested in their communities because they are from there and tend to give back more as a result.
6. Better for the Environment. Local businesses are more likely to source products and services from other local shops, which helps reduce shipping distances and CO2 emissions. Many local businesses also have a greater interest in sustainable practices because they want to help keep their local communities clean.
While I still rely on my Amazon Prime account for emergencies and last-minute items that I can't find nearby, I try to be more conscious of purchasing items from independent businesses as often as possible for the reasons above. I encourage you to step out into your communities and spark conversations with your local business owners and artisans. Listen to their stories. Learn about their WHYs: why the started their business; why they love what they do; why the chose to open up in your community. Find ways to support your local economies and build connections in your neighborhood. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.
Love + Light,