31Aug2015

10 Great Ways to Shop Local

shop local

Shop local

During the last recession, those of us who live in small towns (or even in big cities that rely on small businesses), saw a decline in locally owned and run businesses. As shoppers saw their own bank accounts dwindling, they opted to shop at cheaper, nationally or internationally owned businesses and at businesses that offer cheaper, internationally manufactured goods. This killed many local businesses, while others held on for dear life. Now, as the economy is beginning to recover, shoppers are turning back to their local businesses and are starting to realize the importance of shopping local once again.

But how do you shop local? Are there ways to both shop online (which is becoming more and more common), and shop local? If you are interested in supporting local businesses that rely on local shoppers for their livelihood, as we do, here are ten great ways you can shop local:

4. Use Etsy.

If you prefer to shop online for clothes, books, and other goods, Etsy is a great way to still use the internet to get the items you need and also support local businesses. In order to support businesses in your direct area, you simply have to search for stores that are in your location. Etsy makes this pretty easy by displaying where each seller is located and by allowing you to filter results based on location.

1. Use Google Local Search.

While nearly everyone is familiar with Google, some may not be aware that you can not only find local businesses through the search engine, but that Google usually automatically serves you local results when you enter in the type of business or product your are looking for plus your city, zip, or county.  For example, if one were to be looking for party supplies in Bucks County, then they would simply search for “party supply bucks county”. This is a great way to find local businesses.

2. Visit your local downtown.

Obviously, you already know about some stores in your area, but are you familiar with every store and what they sell? Even in a small town, there might be stores you have never patronized. Take a walk around your local “downtown” area and see what might be hiding there.

3. See if your local stores have websites.

Most businesses, even small, local businesses now understand how important it is to have a website that displays their products and even lets you purchase what they have to offer, right from the website. Where I was raised, the “downtown” area is a twenty minutes’ drive from our house and there is no public transportation. As teenagers, we often relied on online shopping to patronize local stores.

4. Use eBay.

EBay is already a great source for getting the products you need, especially if they are no longer available through their brand’s stores or distributors. It can also be used to shop locally, by using eBay’s location search. You can then find eBay sellers in your area.

6. Eat at establishments that are locally owned.

It might be tempting just to swing through Starbucks on your way to work (a coffee shop with a drive-through window? This is the future, people!), less than half of what you pay for that coffee stays in the community. On the other hand, if you get your coffee, lunch, dinner, etc. from a restaurant that is locally owned and operated, about 70% of what you pay stays in the community. That percentage is higher if the restaurant only sells food/drink that is sourced locally.

7. Do your grocery shopping at a local bodega or market, instead of at a chain.

If at all possible, pick up your groceries at a market that is locally owned. In some towns, this simply isn’t an option, as there might not be any locally owned markets left, but most big cities and small towns still have the benefit of being able to shop at grocery stores that are owned by someone who actually lives in that community, too.

8. Patronize your local farmer’s market.

These days, just about every community has a local farmer’s market, even if it only sets up shop once a week. If you can wait to buy your produce until the farmer’s market is set up, rather than buying from a chain store, you’ll be supporting farmers in your local area and you are more likely to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of the time, this produce will have been picked only a few hours before it is set out on stands, instead of days later, like the food in most grocery stores.

9. Look for a local co-op.

A co-op is an opportunity for you to invest in your local community, in a very real, very tangible way. Most co-ops offer organic and niche products, but they also offer membership opportunities that allow you to get discounts on the products that you buy there. They are owned by the people who shop there, rather than by a single person or by a big corporation, so they are more community-minded.

10. Budget for local purchases.

In many cases, when you shop local, you are going to see higher prices than what chain stores can offer. Local establishments have higher overhead fees and the products they see are usually more expensive for the business to acquire. If you’re committed to the shop local movement, start budgeting now for the expense.

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