I’ve always been a supporter of buying local when I can. It is very critical to the dynamic of the town you live in to support the local Mom & Pop shops. If the locals aren’t supporting them, they won’t succeed.
If you live in a larger town that gets a lot of outside traffic, be sure to frequent these small shops. If out of towners see them busy, they assume the business is good and it will draw more traffic. That is something my family and I watch for when we travel.
We often travel down to Florida or sometimes up to Minnesota. We will often look for local restaurants that have a somewhat busy parking lot. This means that the locals think they are good so they are likely the best or one of the best restaurants in that town for one reason or another. We will also chat with the hotel that we stay at and ask them what local places are good to stop in and visit. They will often have a list of different ones to check out.
What are some of the best local digs? We have found some great Mexican restaurants in our travels. Coffee shops are another thing that we really watch out for. In fact, we love to find local dig coffee houses so much that we will plug coffee shops into our GPS and go off the beaten path to find them. The last trip we took to Tennessee, we found this great African based coffee shop called The Horn Coffee. They had the best appetizer type food and delicious coffee. We were so excited to have followed the GPS to such a great place.
Go out of your comfort zone and try a new place, in most cases, you won’t be sorry you did. We have been so excited and pleased to stumble upon a local family owned place that had great service and delicious foods. Be brave, give it a chance, and love something new.
Now, the key to loving something new is then committing to spread the news about that place to those around you. Let others in your circle know what you found and why you loved it so much. This word of mouth could make or break a small business. Small businesses are generally more concerned with customer satisfaction and approval than chain businesses that depend on the companies reputation.
Yes, chain businesses may be cheaper but you get what you pay for. The price may be less but you will get a lower standard of care from chain businesses than you will from small family owned ones. This to me is very important. I would rather pay a buck or two more and have a great experience than to pay less and hate the quality of care I was given. Now, I am not an entitled person that thinks everything needs to be a bed of roses but I do expect respect to be shown both ways at a business. I expect to receive the respect I show to the employee or business owner.
Many times I have gone into a chain restaurant or store and couldn’t find a clerk to help me or the checker was so rude that I about walked out without making the purchase. I understand these are people and they all have a bad day from time to time but I have been to some places that every time I go, it is the same poor service. I go expecting them to mess up my order or not show any sort of respectable customer service.
My friend and I started a produce co-op almost a year ago. We offer fresh produce at wholesale costs. We have greatly enjoyed offering this to our community. We only grow by word of mouth though. We do our best to keep our customers happy and encourage them to tell their friends about us. We are in it for the community, the personal aspect that we can provide. It was recently asked of me if our business was suffering due to home delivery services. I can honestly say that I don’t think it has. Why? I would like to think it is because we provide individual service to our customers.
We learn their names, their likes, their dislikes, their allergies, sensitivities. We try to remember those “little things” and make their experience just unique to them. We are human and we make mistakes but then we take the extra steps to make things right with our customers as any business should. Our company is not a business that is in it to make a profit, we are a not for profit and we are all volunteer run. Our workers are not paid, they do it because they love to provide the service.
Because I know the importance of shopping small, I will continue to do this and hope that I can encourage you to do the same. You can help to make or break someone’s dream by just branching out and giving a new or small business a chance to show you what they are made of. In most cases, you will be glad you did.
How willing are you to try something new? Is that outside your comfort zone? Maybe you are a small business owner, what have you found to really help you to succeed? Please share in the comments below.