The discussion over why we should shop locally has been raging for decades, and really, there are no easy answers to the questions raised in this ongoing debate.
However, I think we should all agree that shopping locally is the best way to support our community, but don’t just take my word for it.
There are many groups and organizations across North America that will give you many reasons to shop local.
One of those groups, Sustainable Connections, provides one of the best and most comprehensive lists of reasons to shop locally that I have come across as I’ve researched this topic and I want to share their list with you.
Buying local is supporting yourself
Many studies over the years have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally-owned business, rather than nationally-owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.
Buying local is supporting community groups
It is estimated that non-profit organizations receive on average 250 per cent more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.
Buying local keeps your community unique
Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit.
Buying local reduces environmental impact
Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation, and generally set up shop in town or city centres as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
Buying local creates more jobs
Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally, and in our community, provide the most jobs to local residents.
Buying local generally means better service
Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the community they are serving and the products they are selling. They also take more time to get to know customers.
Buying local results in community investments
Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, they are less likely to leave and are more invested in the community’s future.
Buying local puts taxes to good use
Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally-owned stores entering the community.
Buying local means more choices
A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantee a much broader range of product choices.
Buying local encourages local prosperity
A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.
I think you’ll agree that these are all good arguments supporting the suggestion to always make shopping local your first choice. Now, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t shop elsewhere, but whenever possible, my family and I always make it a priority to buy local.
Here on the South Shore, we are fortunate to have many choices from which to choose when it comes to shopping, and over the past four years, The South Shore Breaker has conducted a contest to recognize and celebrate local businesses. In next week’s issue, we will be announcing the winners in the 2018 South Shore Breaker Readers’ Choice Awards.
From the end of August to early October, we asked readers to vote for their choices in more than 100 different categories. Those categories included everything from the best ATV dealer to the best auto body shop; from the best gallery to the best bar or nightclub; from the best chicken wings to the best food truck; from the best lunch spot to the best sandwich and from the best accountant to the best drugstore.
You get the picture. The choices were wide and varied, covering just about every shopping topic you can imagine, and to our pleasure, we had an overwhelming response from readers throughout the region.
Shawn Patterson, South Shore Breaker provincial sales manager, says, “the response from readers keeps growing. This year, we had 1,841 submissions from readers and each form had to have at least 30 categories selected to be counted. However, the majority of forms had 50 to 60 categories selected.”
Patterson says The South Shore Breaker Readers’ Choice Awards have been growing in popularity, not only from a reader’s perspective, but also from a business point of view.
“We are thrilled when we see local businesses promoting their win on radio, in print ads, social media and recently even on parade floats. Shopping and supporting local is so important,” he explains. “Local businesses keep our community unique and provides the consumer with great services and a personalized experience. When we support local, we know the people behind the product and/or service. Most importantly, we are helping to create local jobs and helping to grow our local economy. The spinoffs are endless.”
As a businessperson in the marketing field, Patterson says he takes pride in knowing and working with local business, festivals,events and non-profits.
“However, each year I am always pleasantly surprised to learn of new businesses I didn’t know was in our own backyard,” he adds. “The South Shore Readers’ Choice Awards are about celebrating business but also about promoting the South Shore as a great place to live and do business.”
Well said, Shawn, and that’s the view from here.
Vernon Oickle was born and raised in Liverpool where he continues to reside with his family. He has worked for more than 30 years in community newspapers on the South Shore and is the author of 28 books.