Shop Local… you see this everywhere now. The message “let’s support local business” almost feels like a kind of community boosterism, but did you know that buying close to home may be more than a feel-good, it’s-worth-paying-more-for-local type of thing?
Supporting shop local movements can help rural communities withstand economic shifts more productively, and as our province moves through uncertain economic changes, supporting local has become more important than ever.
Many organizations have examined how money flows throughout the local economy and what they have found is that the economic impact is profound when consumers work to keep their money within the local community. By shopping at the local retailer instead of an obscure online store or in another city, consumers keep their communities from becoming “clone towns” devoid of neighbourhood shops and services.
What Does Shop Local Mean
Truly, shopping local means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local services, employ local workers, and serves the local consumer. Shopping local does not mean walling off the outside world and never shopping online or in another community. In short, it is more of an approach to educating consumers about the difference locally and independently owned businesses make in their communities, creating a mindset amongst local consumers that shopping local matters.
As a large sector of the economy, locally owned or independently owned businesses are an undying engine for most communities, and when dollars are spent locally, they can, in turn, be re-invested locally. As much as eighty percent of local business owners contribute to their community by donating to non-profits and volunteering time to community groups. Depending on the percentage of money spent locally, this re-circulating of money leads to increased community welfare.
The point of the buy local movement is not that communities should suddenly seek to be self-sufficient in all ways. Instead, the shop local movement is about educating consumers and creating balance, in turn, supporting the local economy, consumer choice, and even the value of your neighbourhood.
Get Ready to Shop Local
1. Online Research. Start with a little online research to learn more about the local businesses in your area. Remember that not every local company has a brick and mortar storefront. With a shift to online shopping, many independent businesses have cut overhead costs and now operate without a physical storefront.
2. Explore the Options. To learn more about local businesses and what they have to offer in Drayton Valley, read our blog 30 Ways to Shop Local, or get the family involved and set aside a day to explore the town and see what it has to offer.
3. Make Room in Your Budget. Since local businesses are not always able to match the low prices of online or big-box stores, it can be challenging to shop locally if you are on a tight budget. Try budgeting or setting aside a specific amount of money each month to put toward your favourite local products or services. Note that goods are often cheaper at large retail stores that sell mass-produced wares. However, services are often just as cheap or even less expensive when you buy them locally.
4. Explore Home-Based Markets. As with any rural community, there is a thriving home-based market with talented artists and local independent business owners. Many of these businesses offer the latest in trendy or unique one-of-a-kind gifts. These same home-based businesses often organize community-driven shopping events like The Drayton Valley Home Expo or various independent “pop-up” shops.
5. Eat Locally. Sometimes local communities can have gaps with the availability of products and services that you may need, making it challenging to shop locally consistently. However, everybody must eat! So dining out is one of the easiest ways to support your local economy.
6. Buy Local Produce. A locally-owned grocery store is an excellent place to start, but a farmer’s market is even better. Shopping locally for produce gives you a chance to meet the people who sell your food and feel confident about where your food is produced.
Remember, when you choose to shop locally, something as simple as changing the place you get your hair cut can be a significant first step to supporting your community and making a positive change. At the most basic level, when you buy local more money stays in the local area and is re-circulated in the local area.
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