Have you noticed a lack of variety in local shopping options? As big businesses move in, the small ones get pushed out, which results in the somewhat stagnant local commerce options representing the interests of large brands – not your community.
A 2011 study conducted by the Maine Center for Economic Policy revealed that choosing to purchase goods and services from locally owned businesses impacted the local economy nearly twice as much as the same purchases made at regional or national retailers. Because the return is higher – as much as 76 percent, the study found – more local job, business and growth opportunities are created.
So what can you buy locally without breaking the bank?
1. Fresh Produce
Local farmers can offer fruit, vegetables and herbs straight from the source, guaranteeing your family has the freshest foods. Compared to produce found in supermarkets, produce from local farmers doesn’t travel long distances or incur additional costs to get from farm to table.
Vern Grubinger, a vegetable and berry specialist writing for the University of Vermont, noted that purchasing local produce maintains the genetic diversity of foods, which results in better nutrients, colors and flavors.
It’s easy to walk into the nearest chain store to purchase your wardrobe, but do you know where each piece came from? Often, larger retailers outsource the production of clothing to other countries, which takes business away from the local community.
Instead, consider shopping at locally owned consignment or thrift stores for clothing and working with a local tailor or seamstress to ensure secondhand clothes fit you well.
3. Repair Services
Whether your heating and cooling system is on the fritz or you’re looking for ways to reduce monthly energy costs, opting for local repair services is beneficial to your home and wallet. Local home repair companies understand the factors impacting energy efficiency and offer local green options capable of saving you money while enhancing the sustainability of your home’s energy use.
4. Personal Care
When buying soap, lotion or hair products, can you recognize the ingredients? If you’re like most people, simply reading the ingredients can be challenging, let alone understanding why it’s used. Purchasing name-brand personal-care products might seem tempting, but you receive better quality and value when shopping locally. Shop at local stores for handmade soap, lotion and beauty products containing natural ingredients.
Ordering flowers online has become the norm for many people, as it’s quick and convenient. However, using online services takes your business away from local florists who offer fresh flowers, innovative arrangements and quick service. Unlike paying extra money for rapid delivery via online flower retailers, buying from local florists offers the same selection at a lower price while supporting local flower suppliers.
Between Amazon and Kindle, buying books online is effortless. Unfortunately, choosing online book vendors does nothing for the local economy. Supplement online shopping with local booksellers and traders.
The best part is most local sellers offer cash or store credit for your old books, meaning you may even make a little extra cash for gently used tomes. Reduce clutter, get new-to-you books and support fellow members of your community when shopping for books locally.
7. Tax Services
It’s tempting to file your taxes online or trust a national tax-solution chain to complete forms, but saving a few dollars initially could lead to costly errors.
Instead, work with a local tax firm or accountant to ensure your household’s annual income, expenses and deductions are properly recorded before filing. In addition to supporting the local economy, hiring an accountant ensures you have professional representation in the event of an audit.
Become a Community Contributor
Everyone wants a thriving, vibrant community, but how and where you spend your hard-earned cash affects how much or little your community can grow. The next time you need to purchase goods or services, search for locally owned businesses instead of opting for large brands.
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