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With the holiday shopping season upon us, we all must decide how we will spend our dollars this year and just as importantly where we will spend them. The big-box retailers and national restaurant chains spend a lot on advertising and have conditioned many of us to gravitate towards their establishments during the height of the shopping season. However, there is a strong case to be made for supporting local businesses rather than the national brands.
Here are five compelling reasons to shop at local stores during this holiday season:
Small businesses offer comparable pricing and quality to the major brands: It is a common belief among some that you cannot receive as good a price and level of service from a smaller shop as you would from a major company. Nothing could be further from the truth. The local companies that have survived in recent years have done so by adapting to a highly competitive environment. This means their pricing is competitive and their service usually exceeds that of a national chain.
A national brand does not necessarily equate to quality: Mergers and acquisitions abound in corporate America, causing many major companies to change their names and restructure their organizations in some cases multiple times within half a decade. Lost in the shuffle during all this restructuring are often the intangibles that built the brand in the first place.
More local businesses gives consumers more choices: Some of the major retailers emphasize their low prices and wide selection, but what would happen if these were the only stores left in town? Would they still strive to keep their prices low if there were no competitors left? Not likely. When consumers have more shops competing for their dollars, they receive more choices and ultimately lower prices and better products/services.
Local businesses create local jobs: Local businesses are ultimately good for the local economy because they employ more people in the community. These are your friends, neighbors and family members. Buying from local companies keeps these folks employed, making the entire community more prosperous.
Local businesses support the community: Not only do they create jobs, local companies support the community in numerous other ways as well. One way is by investing in local infrastructure, broadening the tax base and keeping local property taxes lower. Another is by supporting (and often sponsoring) local schools, non-profits and community events. Finally, a local business is far more likely to hire other local businesses for their products and services, thus creating a multiplier effect of community jobs and prosperity. For example, a retail store or local coffee shop is highly likely to contract with local suppliers to bring in their products, keep their money in a local bank, and hire a local accounting firm to do their bookkeeping. This “chain reaction” of support is good for everyone in the community.