Buy Local is running from 3-9 June. We all know that buying local is the right thing to do...but why, exactly? What are we doing when we give our pennies to a small independent business instead of a big chain?
Crucially, we’re keeping those smaller shops open. We need these smaller shops because of three very important things they offer our high streets:
Without local shops, there’s very little choice about what to buy. Many independent bakers, for example, have a speciality cake or treat that only they sell. But if shoppers give their bread-buying money to supermarkets instead, the independent bakers will close and those unique treats will disappear. What about clothes shops? Turning up to a party in the same outfit as someone else is a bit of a social gaff but hard to avoid when all us have access to only a limited number of chain stores.
2. Customer service
Another real positive about local shops is the excellent customer service. A big chain store can’t hold a candle to an independent shop when it comes to flexibility. Caroline Webb at Shine, for example, found an appointment for me – that fitted in around my children – at a scant 24hrs notice. Rosemary’s florists saved me a lot of hassle when I accidentally ordered flowers to collect from the Godalming branch instead of the Woking one – the Woking staff simply made me up a new bouquet. I doubt a national spa chain or a supermarket florist could have offered that kind of service.
Often, a local business is an extension of the owner. He or she cares about the business and what it does in quite a different way from someone working in a supermarket, say. In an independent shop, you really are a valued customer and if you phone them, your call really is important. Local business owners usually know their stock inside and out and they run those businesses because they’re interested in what they sell. Secure in this knowledge, they don’t need to be patronising and can put customers at ease by being friendly and helpful. C&E Electricals on Kingfield Road in Woking is a great example of this – why buy light bulbs anywhere else?!
Many independent retailers sell better quality merchandise than big chains do. Big chains know that their customers are often motivated by price so the chain won’t consider using more expensive suppliers even if the quality’s better. The thing is, price isn’t everything and false economy is no myth. I find this particularly with food – if I buy the cheapest food a supermarket offers, my family and I don’t like it and it ends up wasted. My bank balance would be healthier if I’d bought the best I could afford in the first place. Most small business owners really care about the quality of what they sell and this benefits us, the customers, too.
So there you are. Choice, customer service and quality. Local shops beat chain stores hands down in these three very important areas. That’s why you should buy local.
Member since: 9th July 2012
Former public sector EA and PA, now a mother of three and a copywriter. I create blogs and features for the Best of Guildford but write for other people as well, producing web pages and press releases,...