What started as kind of a grass roots movement in communities around the country a few years ago has turned in to a new way of doing business. Most of the buy local themes that were prevalent just a couple years ago were geared more towards business to consumer (B2C) transactions. Now, communities of all sizes, from urban areas to rural, are awash with “Buy Local” bumper stickers and marketing paraphernalia, with the theme becoming prevalent in business to business (B2B) transactions as well. A short drive down Main Street USA will bring bumper stickers, store window stickers, and flashing lights touting the “Buy Local” mantra.
Virtually every city with a population over 10,000 seems to have “Locally Owned” Facebook groups spouting the benefits of a local approach to doing business. These groups range from a few hundred members to tens of thousands. These users are actually “motivated” consumers regularly using the groups as a way to find local alternatives to chain stores. Right there as members of these group to help consumers find these alternatives are businesses covering the entire spectrum of commerce. The businesses join the group to find their own local alternatives and also to espouse their own wares and services (in quite a non-spammy way I must say). Just a quick trip to any of these Facebook groups pages shows that you can find any product from coffee, to massages, to corporate class printing services. I recently found a heretofore unknown coffee shop specifically via a recommendation in my local group.
Why Buy Local?
There are as many reasons to push the local approach as there are people. One of the most common reasons given is the belief that spending money at your area businesses will help your local economy and community more so than spending money at a chain store. Proponents will even point to empirical studies that support their viewpoint. It is actually a pretty straightforward logical conclusion for sure. Spending money at my newly found coffee shop is employing a local resident as well as providing a chance for a local business owner to be more successful. The local employee will likely spend money locally as well, and presumably the local business owner will also spend or invest more of their money locally as well.
It is surely a personal decision as to whether to buy locally or not. Some situations will require consumers to pay a slightly higher costs to buy local. Realistically though, there are some cases where buying from a chain store will be the most feasible option. For many purchases though, just a little effort and/or imagination is all it takes to find a cost effective “Buy Local” option.
Our guest blogger today is Kent Allen. Kent has lived in the Richmond area for nearly 30 years and has worked in finance and technology for nearly all of that time. His new pet project is the Richmond Business Listings. It is a project that piggy backs on the Buy Local trend and will work to highlight locally owned Richmond VA businesses.