Easy ways to shop local that can have a BIG impact

Shop Local to Grow Our Community

When we have shopping to do, it might not cross our mind to shop local first. It’s simple enough to head down to the mall – or easier still, to just browse Amazon.com. Big box stores and Internet marketplaces offer a huge selection, and the added convenience of one-stop shopping.

However, when we spend our money and shop local independent businesses, we are not only supporting a local business owner, but also contributing to sales tax revenue for our town.  Our town in return, is able to take that revenue and support public works that many of us take for granted – paved streets, infrastructure, parks, etc.

Small businesses care about earning your business and about our community. Their customer service is top-notch because they are our neighbors and our friends. It is also the small businesses that are supporting our fundraisers, local events, and little league teams throughout the year.

Buy Local or Bye-Bye Local

Image result for neighborhood business

Unfortunately, the phrase “Buy Local or Bye-Bye Local” is one we’ve all seen. A new shop or restaurant has popped up in your neighborhood, however, after just a few months it is already out of business. What happened? It could have been bad planning or personal reasons, but more likely there wasn’t enough revenue coming in to manage their loan or other expenses.

Four easy ways we can shop local that have a BIG impact

If you’re ready to help our cities’ economies survive AND prosper, there are several ways you can support local businesses.

1. Discover local businesses- this may seem like an easy one at first, but there are plenty of local businesses that you likely have never even heard of. Many of them have storefronts, and others operate out of their home.

  • Get out and walk down the street- see what brick and mortar businesses are nearby.
  • Open Google Maps and add your address to the search bar. See what businesses pop up that are near your home.
  • Attend local farmers’ markets and craft and vendor fairs.
  • Open Facebook and search “local business” and your city.
  • Ask your friends and neighbors for local recommendations for goods & services. You never know – that great mechanic you’ve been looking for might be just around the corner
  • Visit your local chamber of commerce’s website. See what businesses they have linked on their site.

2. Shop local- Now that you are aware of the businesses that are near you, make shopping from them a part of your monthly routine.

  • Decide which areas of your budget you could likely shop local:
    • Check local FIRST and see if you can get the same product from a local business.
    • Buy your produce from a local farmers’ market or shop for clothes at a local boutique.
    • If you typically eat out once a week, choose a local restaurant. Even if you can’t totally give up your favorite chain, try a local business every other week.
    • For birthdays skip the cake from the big box store. Most of those are pre-made, and only decorated in store. A small local bakery can offer a fresher and likely better tasting cake, and they can often do customization or flavors not offered at a national store.
    • Need a coffee fix? Forgo the national brand or try that new coffee shop that just popped up around the corner.
  • Set a “local budget” and choose to spend that at locally-owned business each month.
  • Go local for services- Services are often just as cheap  (sometimes even cheaper) when you buy them locally.

3. Support small businesses- Now that you’re more knowledgeable about the small businesses in your community, share your information with others.

  • When you buy a product that you just love or received really great service, tell others! Share it on social media. Word-of-mouth advertising is the most trusted form of advertising, and isn’t one that the business can pay for.
  • Take your information to work:
    • Does your company send gifts to their customers during the holiday? Instead of ordering from a national brand, recommend local made wine or local gift baskets.
    • If you’re decorating a new office space, use a local artists’ work to jazz up the atmosphere.
    • Do you buy company shirts and then send them off to be embroidered? Check out the local seamstress in your town that also embroiders. You may be able to get the job done much quicker and cheaper.

4. Shop locally online- It is hard to go out and check every store and small business in the area for the goods you’re looking for.

  • Many stores have their own websites or Facebook pages that highlight their store, products, or services and many of them accept payments online.
  • Shop on the Cedar Rapids Marketplace.
    • We’re adding new vendors and products each week. We strive to be the place to shop, find, and buy the local products and services you love.
    • We’ll connect you to the businesses and products that are made by local people.

A Great Place to Live

Local businesses simply make your town a better, more interesting place to live.

One suburban housing development looks much like another, but a town center with thriving local businesses has a feel that’s all its own. Local restaurants, bars, boutiques, food markets, and gift shops all combine to give a place its unique character.

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