It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has been putting stress on local communities. As an effect of the pandemic, local businesses have been struggling to pay bills, rent, and wages. Before the pandemic, local businesses were already crucial to the vitality of communities. Now, they are even more important to the resilience and continued growth of our communities.
Here are a few reasons why supporting local businesses are important:
1. They keep money in communities
Right off the bat, this is one of the more crucial benefits that comes from supporting local companies. As of 2019, $48 out of every $100 spent at local businesses recirculates in the local economy as opposed to $14 out $100 at large, national retailers. That is a massive difference.
2. They help raise wages
It is true that large businesses pay higher wages on average, but this statistic is misleading. In looking at the variation of wages, large businesses pay a few, high-skilled employees significantly more than smaller, local businesses whereas these local businesses actually pay their low- and mid-skilled employees higher wages. On a whole, supporting local businesses actually helps decrease the rising levels of income inequality.
3. You can have a say in what your community looks like
Admittedly, this is more of an abstract reason, but hear me out. The larger and less local a business is, the further away from it is from its customers. Because of this, it is more difficult to personally hear and understand the needs of the local community. By supporting local businesses, the local economy is then filled with businesses that understand and listen to their community members and not just to focus groups.
4. They increase local resilience
With more money circulating in the local economy and with you having an increased voice in your community, it is less beholden to those larger businesses who do not understand the peculiarities of this community. In the long run, this can make Seattle more self-reliant and resilient when crises happen. In this sense, our concerns are directed to our community members first and not to a bureaucratic organization.
5. It is a more personal experience
We have all had the experience of being placed in a long waiting line on the phone. Between the cheesy elevator music and the cold, robotic voice of the automated answering machine, it is sometimes easier to just hang up and hope a human answers next time. With a local business, you are part of their community and are their primary concern. When you support your local businesses, it makes it easier for them to support you. Additionally, instead of being one customer out of millions, you are a member of their crucial customer base, meaning that you can better vote with your dollar on what products and services you think are worthwhile.
Yet, a reason is of no use if it does not lead to action. The big question now is not simply why you should support local businesses, but how.
Here are some ways you can help out:
1. It’s obvious, but buy local products and services.
This is the bedrock of the local economy. This is how both companies and their workers make a living. Here in Seattle, there are numerous resources at our disposal. Yes, this might mean switching out a tried-and-true lager from a national brewery for a new, locally brewed ale. But hey, there is an excitement from exploring all the options around you. For example, you can use this tool to find local options near you. Here is another useful resource to learn more about our local economy and find great places to shop.
2. Ask your friends and family to buy local.
If you already frequent local businesses, you can also do your part by asking friends and family to consider buying local. In fact, word of mouth is the most common way that customers learn about small businesses. Leaving positive reviews and feedback on Google or on services like Yelp can communicate to strangers that these places are trustworthy and well worth their support.
3. Buy gift cards.
Gift cards are a great way to incentivize others to shop locally. Surveys have shown that 90% of new customers who have received a gift card from a small business they have never visited will redeem the gift card there and will likely return to shop there again. Additionally, customers are likely to visit a store with a gift card valued at just $0.88! Here are some great resources to find local gift cards.
4. Avoid third-party apps and platforms.
Some third-party platforms may make it easier to purchase from local companies, but they can end up eating into their profit margin, making it hard for these companies to keep providing the same quality of goods and services. Apps and platforms such as Grubhub, UberEats, and Seamless can take between 15% to 30% from each order. If you can, try to connect directly to the stores and their websites. There are some great directories that can connect you to these sites for free and without taking away from small businesses, such as Catch22Market.
5. Get involved!
Last but not least, there are many ways to get involved with the local economy beyond being a customer. There are many community organizations that strive to further small businesses that could use donations, publicity, and involvement, such as the Seattle Good Business Network. You can also get involved with online Facebook groups that are dedicated to informing community members about small business opportunities.
Why now matters more than ever:
If we support our local companies, we can help keep money in our community, raise wages, have a greater say in our local economy, build a resilient community, and bring back a more personal experience.
This is exactly why all of us can and should come together as a community to support our local economy. The best resource of a community is always its members. Again, it is no secret that local companies are struggling. This means that when the dust settles after the pandemic, it is unclear what the local economy is going to look like. If we want our community to be more resilient and to thrive after the pandemic, we need to act now to save our local businesses and their workers.
However, it is one thing to talk about all these statistics and numbers. These headlines do not capture the real hurt and pain that is being felt here at home. This is more than just buzzwords. When I say “local businesses” and “employees,” I am talking about our neighbors, friends, and family.
Here at Atlas Networks, we are deeply committed to supporting our local community. From the very beginning, our mission was to create a new type of Internet service that prioritized you. It is our belief that a network without a community is impersonal and counterintuitive. The point is to connect people, not ensnare them.
This is why we put our customers in the spotlight and have sought to build relationships between our staff and our customers. This is also why we are asking you to help do what you can to support local companies.