As two people who are passionate about this topic, I have had a little help writing this blog post. Daniela from DT Social Solutions, who is a local social media buff and a personal friend, has contributed to this post because you know, keep it local and community over competition, every damn day.
Since opening Poplar + Birch over a year and a half ago we have said #shoplocal #shopsmall. We do not say this to be on trend, we say this because we believe in it, wholeheartedly.
When you shop small, you help real people, not big box corporations thrive. And don't get us wrong, we realize that these big box stores often employ local people (which is great). But they are making millions of dollars a year - is your community really seeing any of that?
We often hear "It's too expensive to shop local" or "I don't have to pay a parking meter when I shop online". What this also means is that you don't get to connect with the person you are supporting. You don't get to see their business flourish in your town, thus allowing it to support other endeavours in your communities, such as your favourite charity.
Supporting local businesses helps them support other local businesses. Whether it's using local tradespeople when they are building or renovating their store, decorating with locally sourced textiles and art, or including wares from local makers in their inventory, small businesses know the difference that support can make. They often will also make sure that the goods that they carry are ethically produced and manufactured. Can big box stores say the same?
We all want to have conveniences of a city in a small town. Stores open later, restaurants that are open 7 days a week and past 9pm, bigger selections, the latest and greatest movies, the latest trends in interior decor...we could go on. But none of those things will ever be a reality if local consumers don't feel the need to support them. If you don't want things to disappear from your local economy, you have to support your local economy.
Small shops value their customers and offer unique items that aren't always easy to find. Small shops know that creating a sensational experience and going the extra mile is the true key to any business. The stores are one of a kind and their owners are passionate about the products they choose, which means they are knowledgable about them. If we are appreciative of these businesses we need to make it a priority to visit them more than a few times a year. If you aren't there for them consistently throughout the year, they may not be there for you when you need them.
We know its not always easy when you have a certain item in mind. We get that there is something to be said about going to the city for the weekend or the convenience of Amazon Prime. We aren't saying that there isn't a time and place for this either. What we are saying is when you can make the effort, try shopping smaller and shopping locally.
There are many ways to help small businesses. The most obvious one is to support them with your purchases. It doesn’t have to be a large amount. It just needs to be consistent. Another way to support small businesses is by helping spread the word. Like their posts they share on social media or even share it too. Just engaging is more helpful than you know. If someone compliments an item you purchased locally, share your secret. Show some love. Your dollars, every one of them, matter.
We understand that businesses come and go. It's even more noticeable in a small town. We can blame it on the internet or on chain retailers, just ignore it and say that's the way the world is going. But, in all honesty if we look deep, it is not just the fault of the large retailers. A big part of the blame falls on us. It is up to the community to remember local and small business. Your dollars matter and where you spend them speaks volumes to what you want to support. Small businesses exist because they want to offer you with something special; they love you — don’t forget to love them back.
Ashley & Daniela