Supporting Local – Why is it important to support local businesses?

Let’s start this post with an experience I recently had. I am from the rural county of Devon in the UK – based in a small town on the on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. I return there when I’m not in Mongolia.

The small town was hosting its annual local Food and Music Festival. It’s a celebration of local food, music and crafts throughout the town. The event is designed to promote the many and varied shops and local food producers and crafters. Local musicians and musical groups were rotating – playing in different locations throughout the day. Including a great group of singers that sang outside the local museum and a small independently owned cafe located next to it. If I’m in the UK, I visit this local cafe every Saturday to give them my custom and support.

(Did you notice how many times I used the word local?)

It was as I was sitting there that I noticed a lady come to listen to the performance … bringing with her a coffee and a pastry – both purchased in Waitrose supermarket. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t heard of Waitrose (it’s part of the John Lewis group) what is important was that here she was at a local event supporting the local businesses yet she had visited this major supermarket for her free tea/coffee instead of buying a tea or coffee as part of festival.

I found this rather ironic and it was as I was observing that I thought of this …

But why is supporting local so important?

‘We all rely on small businesses in our daily lives, yet many of us may not realise their true impact. Whether it’s the local coffee shop you visit every morning, the parts manufacturer that employs a member of your family or the accountancy firm that helps you manage your finances, small businesses help to shape our local cities and regions.’ (John Longworth – previous Director-Feneral of the British Chambers of Commerce).

True, it might be more convenient to visit your closest supermarket or retail outlet especially with the free parking most offer. Or even easier to press a button on your computer to get the item delivered straight to your door, But, buying local has benefits beyond mere convenience.

Supporting local means not just the more traditional high street shops of the greengrocer, fishmonger, baker or butcher but also locally owned cinemas, artisan markets, gyms, arts buildings, coffee bars and bookshops and craft shops that host events bringing people together. These all provide local services that give a community its character. Its uniqueness. When you support local business owners, you help to make your community a better place to live. You also help to support local innovation and entrepreneurship.

Supporting local helps to improve the local economy – when you opt to support local, significantly more of that money stays in the community. You are also supporting those that create local jobs – small businesses are job creators, and most of those jobs are local jobs.
You also get a more personalised experience – one where it is obvious that you are cared about as an individual. Most independent businesses are run by people – not by boards or shareholders – and they care about being the best they can be.

Thankfully, in recent years, a movement has emerged – a movement encouraging consumers to move away from solely using large, impersonal retailers and reminding them to support the people doing business in their very own communities. In a world that is becoming increasingly homogenised, go out and support your local community. By doing so you are helping to protect its individuality and character. As the quote above says, ‘It only takes you to start a trend.’

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