Buying locally: How it benefits you and your community

You’re out shopping.

The milk is $1 cheaper at the bigger store than your local.

The vegetables, despite lacking glow, mean you save $10 — and all the stuff you need is in one place.

By the end of the week, shopping at the big guns has unknowingly saved you time and money.

However, in an increasingly modernised world, the benefits behind supporting local businesses have become a worldwide revelation.

Key findings from the The 2015 Westpac Australia Day Report found that 9 in 10 Australians felt loyal to at least one small business in their community and that Australians spend an average of $237 a month on locally-made stuff.


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Adelaide Central Markets, Australia | Image: Shou-Hui Wang

So why should we shop locally?

Arguments in favour of supporting local brands follow one underlying trend: buying locally boosts the economy.

In the rawest of nutshells, shopping local means money stays local, which triggers a tighter money circulation and hence a stronger community-based economy.

While supporting local businesses is economically positive, there are multiple other benefits of shopping locally.


Intimacy

By shopping locally on a regular basis, you connect with owners, fellow shoppers and other community members.

This fosters not only a pleasant experience, but opportunities for friendly affiliations and if you’re lucky, perhaps sneaky loyalty sales.


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Independent retailers and shops fill Melbourne’s laneways | Charlievdb

Peace of mind

Local businesses can provide direct insight into where their stuff comes from.

There’s nothing worse than hearing the canned fruit you just bought was manufactured by exploited workers (e.g. in Thailand and South Africa) — transferred across a number of vehicles — kept out back for weeks — before finally ending up on top of your bowl of ice cream (which may have also suffered a similar fate).


Being Green

Local shops have the ability to make more local purchases; less transportation (i.e. less pollution and traffic congestion) is needed to get the products from A to B.


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Bourke, Australia | Image: Brian Yap

Community Growth

Communities blessed with thriving independent businesses boosts the prices of nearby homes.

According to the American Express High Streets Ahead study conducted throughout the UK, town centres full of buzzing small traders had a 17 percent higher rise in property values than the growth in comparable areas with proportionally fewer independent businesses.

Besides, many independent owners tend be locals dedicated to their community. 


 

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Totnes, Devon, one of five UK towns identified as having thriving independent businesses | Image: Adam Tinworth


Exclusiveness

Local small stores, apart from being friendly and fresh are destined to stock your homemade, handmade and organic commodities.

They also tend to have those unique knickknacks, whether it be gadgets or antiques often not found at the bigger stores.


True community is based on upon equality, mutuality, and reciprocity. It affirms the richness of individual diversity as well as the common human ties that bind us together.

 

–  Pauli Murray, American civil rights and women’s rights activist, lawyer and author


While not all are fortunate enough to conscientiously choose their ideal shopping destination (instead chasing the lowest prices), there’s a case in trying to keep local.

This doesn’t necessitate going cold turkey on the convenience and value of the bigger names — it rather advocates being smart about shopping.

Save money buying certain items at larger traders so that you can spend and support your community.

Think Globally, Act Locally.


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Sydney, Australia | Image: Paul McDonald 

 

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