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Recently, I’ve given a lot of thought to why I am so invested in supporting local businesses.

When I was a teenager my first job was at a big-box store. To say that job helped to shape me into the person I am today is an understatement. Theirs was a culture I didn’t want to be a part of. Money was the bottom line and people were a commodity. Relationships weren’t valued, and employees were easily replaced.

Since then I have tried my hardest to work for local businesses. Currently, I work for a small law firm whose purpose is to help other small businesses get started. I love my job, I love the people I work with, and I love what we are about. I also, whenever possible, do what I can to support local businesses.

I’ve put together five reasons why I feel the local business movement is important.

Supporting local business means having a better understanding of where products come from.

I am interested in where items I buy originate. I like being able to ask if the food I’m buying is pesticide-free, locally grown, farm-raised and free of antibiotics. When I buy a handmade product, I like to hear the story that’s attached.

Innovation Hub - Supporting Local Business - McLaughlinPCNothing beats being able to speak personally to the owner of the business who selling their product to you. When they get excited about their product, I get excited.

Typically, if a local business offers a product I can get behind—meaning it’s got a great story and is well made—I tell all my friends, which hopefully drives increased sales to the business. Local businesses rely heavily on word-of-mouth advertisement. Many small businesses, specifically newly emerging ones, have very limited budgets. A positive comment to a friend or on social media can go a long way to help a local business grow.

Supporting local businesses means having a relationship with individuals and becoming invested in their success.

This is my favorite part of buying local. Not only do I get to support a local business, I get to build relationships with them that can last for years. I want to know their story and what drove them into business. I am a stickler for brand loyalty, and, more specifically, people loyalty, especially when it means I get to help a new friend better themselves. I feel joy when someone I buy from begins to see success.

Owning your own business is incredibly hard work and being an entrepreneur isn’t something you become over-night.  It’s a calling that constantly eats away at you until you see the result of your efforts. Even then, you are already thinking of ways to improve and grow.

Owning your own business also isn’t a way to make a quick buck. Many small businesses take years to see a profit, if ever. These individuals know how important relationships with their customers are and want to take time to get to know you. They also know that good relationships can help build their businesses just like bad ones can be detrimental to their success. Because of this, they are interested in building relationships with their customers. There is nothing better than walking into a place of business and having them know exactly what I am there for because they have taken the time to get to know me.

Supporting local means spending your hard-earned money with individuals not corporations.

Think of your favorite locally owned boutique clothing store. The lighting is perfect, it feels warm and cozy, it gives you a good feeling just stepping foot in the door, right? (Not a fan of shopping for clothes? Insert your favorite shop into the scenario. It still works.)

Downtown Jackson - Supporting Local Businesses - McLaughlinPCSupporting local businesses with your cash helps to create that feeling. Your support pays the bills to keep that business running. In addition to the light bill, supporting a local business also helps to add jobs to the market. These jobs help to stimulate the local economy. I thoroughly enjoy walking through parts of my city where I can see the results of a growing economy of small businesses. I am genuinely excited when I see a new face in my favorite places. This growth means they are doing something right.

I do not get the same feeling walking into a big-box store. Quite the opposite. While I know shopping in those places is sometimes unavoidable, I try to shop local as much as possible. I pains me to give my money to a large corporation. I’d rather see my money supporting small businesses and individuals in my community. I know that spending my money at these smaller establishments helps their businesses and their families. I will gladly help a mom and pop send their kids to camp or dance class.

Supporting local means taking part in growing your community.

We are in a renaissance period in Jackson, Mississippi. Our downtown is being revitalized one dilapidated building at a time, the city is alive with activity each weekend, our mayor is engaged. As a result, businesses are beginning to pop up. People are interested in what we are doing and becoming more involved. Sure, there are naysayers all around, but the proof is in the pudding–communities are growing.

People are taking pride in what they have and are working diligently to make this place better. The community wants to support local businesses. People see the value in what they offer and in turn, want to do what they can to help them succeed. Is our city perfect? Absolutely not. However, we are in a better spot than we were just a few years ago and we are getting better every day.

Supporting local makes you feel good. 

It seems these days it’s becoming harder and harder to find positivity.  Turning on the news is a huge Debbie Downer. Logging into social media can be, at times, excruciating. Negativity is running rampant.

The only way I know to combat those feelings is by getting involved in my community.

Supporting a local volunteer organization is the first step. Maybe it is helping to clean the neighborhood one day or helping to paint over graffiti, supporting your community helps to improve your mood. Hang out at your favorite neighborhood restaurant or coffee shop with friends. Shop for a cute top at your favorite small store. Chat with the cashier at your local grocery. Become engaged.

Supporting local is a great way to make yourself feel good.

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