The LOCAL Movement

Have you noticed the sudden shift in people wanting to shop small? If not, maybe it's time to take a look around. Big business companies like Gap, J. Crew, Bed Bath & Beyond, K-Mart, Victoria's Secret, and Francesca's are all closing stores left and right. For the first time in a very long time, the small businesses of this country are dominating. & it’s all thanks to you.
Now, being a small business owner is no easy feat. & if you are one, you know about all of the struggles that go along with it. But here is one thing that I will say: I truly could not name the last time that I stepped into a mall. If it's not within a 15-mile radius of where I live, I am probably not shopping there. Not just because I am a small business owner, but because I would rather support a family than a corporation.
So why buy into the buy local movement? Because chances are, these small business owners are changing your communities for the better. Each one of these small businesses has their own ‘why.’ Why they started. Why they continued. Why they do things the way that they do. Each and everyone leaving their own small-town legacy on Main Street USA.
For most small business owners, they want to create an experience, not just a sale to their customer. Whether it be a clothing store, a thrift shop, a restaurant, or your local mechanic, customers walk in and are greeted by name and with a smile. They are asked how their Mama is doing or congratulated on their latest life achievement. This is what I love about small business, myself. It’s more about connections and interactions than it is about dollar signs.
Did you know that independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar to their communities than their chain and big-box counterparts? Well, if you didn’t…now you know. & honestly, if you aren’t noticing that on your own…take a look around. Look around your children’s youth league ball fields and see all of the signs of LOCAL businesses that are hanging in the outfield. Check out those sponsor t-shirts when someone is hosting a 5-k to raise money for a cause. Next time you go to the county fair, look at who is taking their time and money to make sure that the lights are on or that your kids 4-H animals are purchased at the sale.
When I started Salt Lickers, I had no real growth plan about where I wanted this business to go. But I will tell you this, I looked at one local business owner in particular and what they were doing in their business leading it to success and I noticed one very important thing: giving back to the community every darn chance that they are given. Every chance that they had to get their name out there, they took. & you know what? That is why they are a household name all across Salem County. Now, I am not going to tell you who this person or business is, but I think that most of you could take a guess. Because there is one thing for sure, they are making this community better. I knew that I wanted to use that model as well.
I could fill this post with stats and figures all surrounding just how much local businesses contribute to their communities. But here are some rapid-fire ones that you may want to know: Local business generates 70% MORE local economic activity per square foot than big box retail. 59.3% of local, independent owners say that they use recycled materials for their packaging and processing, making a huge impact on industrial pollution and bettering our environment. If every family in the U.S. spend an extra $10 a month at a locally owned, independent business, instead of a national chain, over $9.3 BILLION would be directly returned to our economy. Just some food for thought...
Small business Saturday is not the only day of the year to be proud that you are a mom and pop shop relying on the local economy. If you don’t care that you are local, no one else will either. If you don’t care about your local community, why should your local community care about you? Whether you are a small business owner yourself, or someone who shops local as much as they can, make sure to show your local love.
Small business Saturday is also not the only day of the year to support your local businesses. You have no idea what a single post on Instagram or a positive thought on Facebook about an experience can do for the morale around a local shop. As owners, we do happy dances each and every time we satisfy a customer. When you buy from a small business, you are not helping a CEO add to their Ferrari collection. You are helping a child get school supplies, allowing a mom to go to the grocery store, and giving to your local economy. So, THANK YOU to our customers and to those of you making sure that you buy local so that we don’t have to say buh-bye to local.

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