Photography by Kate Thompson of Betty Clicker Photography.

After over a year of mostly staying home and limited in-person interactions, it feels as if our corner of the world is entering a new stage. More and more businesses are reopening their doors, people are feeling more comfortable gathering, and a general feeling of optimism seems to be in the air. It’s a relief to have some aspects of life start to resemble “normal,” and we’re excited about what this new phase will hopefully mean for local businesses.

With this sense of reemergence in mind, we’ve been reminded of what we’ve missed about engaging with local shops during quarantine, and the many ways they enhance our lives. So as we shift back to a more recognizable version of browsing, buying, and being together, we wanted to take a moment to share why it continues to be so important to support the businesses within your community—and how we benefit as consumers when we do.

Your dollars stay in your hometown. When you patronize locally owned shops, more of the money you spend goes on to benefit your community. From the salaries for local employees (who in turn spend more money in town) to business owners’ donations to local charities, the economic benefit is undeniable. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, in 2020, 48% of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.

You’ll make a connection. After months of engaging virtually and seeking out “contact-free” options, being able to interact with someone face-to-face feels even more special. Plus, there is simply no substitute for the level of customer service you get when you visit a locally owned shop, where chances are you’ll encounter the owner and have the benefit of their expertise, enthusiasm, and eagerness to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

You’ll have a more successful shopping experience. As a loyal local shopper, you build a lasting relationship that will not only benefit the business, but you as the consumer. The business owner and employees will get to know your likes and dislikes, your size, your wardrobe goals, your home decor preferences, your entertaining style, etc., which enables them to better meet—and anticipate—your needs.

You won’t have to sacrifice convenience. One of the greatest allures of shopping online is the convenience factor—browsing from your couch in your pajamas and having the items delivered directly to your door feels incredibly easy and decadent. But nowadays, it’s not just the big chains that provide this experience. Over the course of the pandemic, many small businesses—especially retail stores—adapted to people’s stay-at-home mindsets and added services such as online shopping, video personal shopping, and same-day doorstep delivery to their offerings. So before you browse the big retail stores online, pay a virtual visit to your local shops for your next digital splurge.

You’ll help the environment. According to an article in HuffPost, shipping produces 1 billion metric tons of CO2 a year. Shopping at a local business entails a fraction of the shipping demand of chains and online shopping, making it a far more environmentally friendly option. When you purchase what you need locally, you can reduce pollution, processing, packaging, and transportation waste. Plus, you can instantly walk out of a shop with a new—or, if you’re taking your commitment to the environment even further, a new-to-you—item.

You’ll help keep your city vibrant. Local businesses make our towns unique. They reflect their owners’ personalities and expertise and are often tailored to the needs and preferences of their clientele in ways that chains simply aren’t. This variety, attention to detail, and locally minded approach make our Main Streets more vibrant and the goods available to consumers more individualized. Imagine what our homes and wardrobes would look like if the only things available were mass-produced. We rely on local business owners for the personality, passion, and character that they bring to so many aspects of our lives.

You’ll become a more conscious consumer. In our experience, buying with intention comes with many benefits. Investing in one special piece that will stand the test of time can keep your closet from bursting, eliminate the anxiety of “what should I wear,” and create a much more interesting wardrobe than if you’d purchased multiple low-priced items of lesser quality that you don’t love.

Looking for inspiration for where to shop local in your area? Visit our LOCATIONS page to find your scouted city and follow them for information about local businesses, finds, and more.