The other day I had lunch with a long-time friend at a local restaurant he particularly likes. There are a dozen or so tables, but we were the only diners there that day. They obviously recognized him. There was no question he was a regular. We ended up talking about local small businesses and why it was important that we patronize them as much as we can.
He and I disagreed.
While neither he nor I are purists in this regard, our attitudes about where we choose to shop and were we don’t are motivated by very different things. “I don’t feel any compulsion to shop at a local small business unless they can offer me a better product at a better price,” he said.
Although I don’t exclusively shop at local small businesses I said, “I think we should seek out opportunities to shop local. It helps our local economy, creates jobs, and keeps our communities alive.”
“I don’t have an ideological compulsion to shop local,” he said.
I’ve never thought of it that way, but he’s right. If I have a choice, which we don’t for many things anymore, I try to pick the local option. If this isn’t the case for you, Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is an excuse to step out of your comfort zone and spend a portion of your shopping dollars at a local merchant. American Express started the campaign in 2011 to promote the idea of “shopping small” to its cardholders. In fact, spend $10 or more and they’ll even give you $10 for the trouble.
I think that’s worth spending a buck or two at a local merchant on Small Business Saturday.
That said, the $10 you get from American Express is the least of the reasons I think shopping at local businesses is a great idea. Here are two of them:
- Two out of every three new jobs in our country are created in these small Main Street-type businesses
- Roughly half of the workforce works there—you might even work in one of them
In addition to the two reasons mentioned above, I like the way I’m treated, I like the idea that I’m helping keep a local business alive, and it just feels good. It’s probably because I’ve been in their shoes before, but I’m OK with that.
This coming Saturday, wherever you are, find a local business that makes sense and spend a few bucks there. You’re likely going to be out shopping anyway, why not support one of your neighbors?