According to statistics released by the Small Business Administration in 2013, small business makes up three-quarters of the total enterprises in the US. In addition, these businesses created up to 63% of the jobs in the country, in the years from 1993 to mid-2013. The small stores in your hometown such as coffee shops, farmer’s market, grocers, bakers and confectioners, cafeterias, and boutiques are all run by local entrepreneurs. Considering the value of their contribution to the economy, you can do your bit to help them thrive. But before you set out to do that, do keep in mind that each town has its own USP. And, to help its commerce best, you’ll have to learn everything you can about it. Here’s how to begin.
Explore the small Businesses in Your Hometown
Whether you’ve lived in a community for a while or if you’ve recently moved in, take the time to explore the local markets and businesses. Many of the stores could be located close to your home. And, you can save on having to drive around simply because they are accessible by foot.
- Find a town map to help you look around or you could download online apps on your phone or tablet to help you locate stores. You could also look for the town’s chamber of commerce and see if they have any maps you can use. Better yet, you could create your own map. Pick a street each weekend and walk along it making a note of the businesses you see. You might end up finding little-known shops that stock some great products that you’re not likely to find anywhere else.
- Now that you have a detailed map with the best goods and services available around the town, you could talk about them on your social media pages. Tell your family and friends about the enterprises even if they don’t live in or close to the locale. Share your experiences about the best dry cleaning services or the freshest of farm produce you found. You could also post pictures of yourself wearing clothes designed by local boutiques.
- Look for the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and any other pages that these businesses have and “Like” them.
Shop at the Local Stores
Each time you go shopping, make it point to shop only at those stores that are run by the entrepreneurs in the town’s community and those that stock locally-made products. Try these tips.
- Keep in the mind that the products you buy locally are likely to be a little more expensive that the bigger stores. That’s because the larger chain stores stock mass-produced, cheaper goods. Thus, you’ll have to make the effort to help local small business in your community. Plan for the added expense when working out your budget by allocating an amount towards your objective. For instance, you might find that a pair of shoes you need costs $75 on Amazon, but a local store offers an equally trendy pair for $85. Opt to assist the town’s entrepreneur and pull the extra $10 from the amount you’ve set aside.
- When it comes to services, you might find that they work out cheaper and better than the chain stores with similar offerings. This could be because these services are offered by community businesses whose owners know every customer personally. For instance, the local motorbike mechanic might fix your vehicle for a lower price and maybe, throw in a tuneup for free. Or, you might find that you need not buy a new sweater because the town’s dry cleaning service also does excellent sewing and darning work.
- You could shop at the local shops around the holidays. Typically, many of these stores offer special holiday discounts and other deals and sales during the holidays to boost small business. Use this opportunity to shop for gifts for your friends and family members. You’ll be adding a special warmth to your gifts since they come from a community store.
- Educate your kids on how they can contribute and see if you can convince your friends to follow your ideals. You might even end up sowing the seed of an interesting small business idea in the mind of a future entrepreneur.
Buy Food in Local Stores
Choose a community-owned cafeteria or market when shopping for groceries or dining out. There are a number of positives in it for you.
- When you shop at a local farmers’ market, you will be buying only the best and freshest of fruits and vegetables. They will be more nutritious since they are newly harvested and free of preservatives and packaging contamination. In addition, you’ll be enjoying the better taste that comes from organic produce grown without the use of insecticides and pesticides. That’s because small farmers are likely to use greener methods to protect their crops.
- You’ll know exactly where the food you’re buying has been grown and sourced. You could trust the farmer behind the counter to tell you how the greens were grown and what they feed the hens and cows that give you the eggs and milk you’re buying. Ask about the best apples to use to make a pie, or the best turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner.
- Choose a local cafeteria or restaurant when eating out. You can enjoy some of the best local fare cooked to perfection by homely kitchens that can add something special to your meals. You might just have the chance to taste a delicious grandma’s recipe handed down over generations.
- Once again, talk about the grocery you’ve bought and the meals you’ve had on your social media pages. If your friends are encouraged to visit your town to taste the food, you might also be promoting tourism.
Besides helping the entrepreneurs and development of the economy of the town, you’ll be building a close-knit community where people know and support each other. By supporting the community, you’ll be encouraging the opening of new small businesses that will in turn benefit you.