Shop Local and Shop Smart
By: Susan Baldani
Sure, you can get some good deals in large department stores, but what about the customer service? Do you find yourself wandering the aisles trying to get some help with a product?
Well, that won’t happen in a locally owned business where customer service is their number one priority. Looking for something special for your mother’s birthday or a graduating senior? Just ask and the advice you will receive will be topnotch. The salesperson is often the owner, and he or she wants your business not only today, but in the future as well. They genuinely care about their customers and reputation, and know their products well since they put the time and effort into finding unique and quality items. Instead of buying something that’s mass-produced and can be found anywhere, the merchandise one finds in a small neighborhood store may even be one-of-akind pieces made by local artists.
When you patronize a local business, you’re not only supporting them, but the community as well. Money spent locally is much more likely to stay local. These store owners often live and shop in the same towns that their businesses are in; they are our neighbors and friends. Many also contribute towards local causes that help the community. In addition, when we support these merchants, it encourages even more businesses to open which ultimately leads to positive growth in towns and even more variety to choose from. It’s a win-win situation!
Whatever your needs are, you can almost always find a small local business that offers it. And when it comes to large expenses such as renovating your home and garden, good advice is invaluable.
Local businesses will focus on what you want, and not just what they want to sell. They will take the time to get to know you and ensure that you’re satisfied with the finished product. Same for getting your car repaired, or finding someone who can do your taxes. Small business owners rely on word of mouth and repeat business, so they want you to have a positive experience. It’s not just a job to them; it’s a passion and their way of life.
The same holds true for independent restaurants, delis, butchers and specialty food stores versus chains. Many of you know how good it feels when you walk into your local pizzeria, deli or restaurant and are greeted by name. Having someone know what you like and ask if you want ‘the usual” makes you feel appreciated and cared for. You’re not just another strange face in a line, where you are assisted by different people each time, depending on the chain’s turnover rate.
Small business owners know that to survive they must be better than the competition that often surrounds them. Since they carefully choose their merchandise and keep a smaller inventory, they often can’t offer the cut-rate prices that some bigger chain stores can.
However, they more than make up for this in customer service and quality of the items. Plus, let’s face it; some of these small stores have a charm and personality that cannot be matched.
So, next time you think of heading to one of those large impersonal box stores, head into town instead to check out what you can find. You will be pleasantly surprised and I’m sure go back again and again. After all, you can’t beat the convenience of shopping close to home, and strolling around downtown can be much more pleasant than fighting the crowds at the mall.
When you do patronize these businesses, and find yourself pleased with the service, make sure to tell others in person and on social media. These local shop owners rely not only on the advertising they do or community participation, but their reputation is always at the forefront of their success! So, spread the word, and make your downtown a bustling and successful part of your community.