Main Street Vs Chain Street: Keeping your Dollars Local

Ask any business owner in a small or mid-sized town, and you’re likely to hear a similar version of the same story: times are tough. A struggling economy has officially hit cities large and small all across America, and Main Street, USA has the empty storefronts to prove it.

Running a successful retail business is notoriously hard work – a task turned doubly hard when the average American has less disposable income at their fingertips than any time in recent history. Shopping malls and super centers filled to capacity with cheaply made products boasting even cheaper price tags seem to have all but taken over the retail game in most cities. There’s no doubt that mom and pop shops and other locally owned operations face some seriously stiff competition. Yet there’s no denying that many of these local stores offer things that the large stores simply can’t.

Here’s a peek at some reasons to consider going local the next time you’ve got a little shopping to do:

More local jobs mean a better community

Local small businesses are the largest national employers. The math is simple: the more shopping you do locally, the more jobs will be created for people in your community. More jobs in your neighborhood mean less crime, better amenities, and an all around cooler place to call home.

Additionally, with more local jobs, fewer people will have to commute. This means less traffic, noise and pollution for everyone in town. Remember, unlike those big name stores, local businesses are owned by people who live here too. That means that they are just as invested in your community’s welfare and future as you are.

Your voice matters locally

As a consumer, your purchasing choices are a surefire way to flex your power. It’s in every business’ best interest to respond to their customers’ needs, but it’s a well known fact that your wants and values make a bigger impact on a smaller, local store than they would in a national superstore.

Consider this: someone who ones one business in the same city where they live is likely to run into customers or potential clients all over town. That alone is an incentive to treat everyone who walks through the doors of their establishment as well as possible. Most owners of national chain stores, on the other hand, will more than likely never step foot inside your local shop—meaning they’ll never know who you are.

Local Shopping Builds Your Town’s Character

Take a look at your local newspaper or city’s website the next time they put out a “best of” list or community poll, and chances are good that most people’s favorite restaurant, shop, café, or boutique is probably a unique local business. That’s because most people love the idea and mission behind unique local places, and enjoy having a “hot spot” that reflects the tastes of the community.

That being said, it’s essential to keep in mind that it’s your patronage that keeps these places open for business. It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily grind that we look to speed first, and character and atmosphere last. We owe it to ourselves and our communities to consider the quality of our experience the next time we eat out or go shopping, and invest some of that time and money in a spot that will make the place we call home just a little better.