I’ve alway been a huge proponent of local business. I love feeling of walking into a local, family owned store that specializes in an area of expertise. There’s a certain artisanal quality of goods offered that you just don’t get with the larger chains. Its that boutique experience that I greatly appreciate.
Though small vendors can be more expensive than shopping the chains, I feel the pros FAR EXCEED the cons. Staring with the product.
Better Product: As a chef, I’m mainly looking at the food; and to be a successful chef I like to create unique, fresh, and quality dishes. This is why local food vendors are my go-to. They offer an array of unique ingredients that I couldn’t otherwise find. Exotic spices, fruits, veggies, liquors…they all offer a taste component that can make your dish stand apart from everyone else’s. There’s nothing like shopping an authentic Indian spice shop, a local Asian food market, or the pop-up farmers markets in the park.
Local shops also offer the freshest of the fresh. Seeing as small business does not have the reach that big business does, you can rest assured that they are most likely going from farm to table. That’s why most local vendors are offering mainly organic, preservative free, produce. When the product is only traveling a few miles from the farms and onto shelves there’s no need to pump the produce full of preservatives; however big business often imports from further away places (cheaper for them); hence the need to artificially ensure the food can last the days, upon days, of travel time before it actually reaches the store. This is an unfortunate necessity of chain stores. The idea of importing, more like transporting, from local farms/vendors leads me to my next point.
Local Businesses Support Local Businesses: Since small businesses don’t have the largest reach, the likely hood that they are also supporting local vendors and farmers to stock their shelves is huge. By doing so they are recycling their money, and yours, back into other local businesses; hence back in the community. This encourages local job growth, which is my next pro.
Job Growth: By shopping local you are creating a cycle of positive outcomes. The more you spend locally, the more of your money is being recycled to other local venders. The better local vendors are doing, the more employees they will need to keep up with the work orders. The more employees they need, the more employed your community becomes. The more people that are employed by local vendors the greater the effect of this cycle, which results in a stronger, more fiscally advantageous community.
Community: Did you know that non-profit organizations like your children’s after school teams, local food banks, community events, etc., receive almost 3x more funding from local venders than they do from large chains? It’s true. Local businesses support a healthy community, both with sustenance and with community outreach. They care about what their buyers want.
Caters to Your Needs: Big business only puts on their shelves, what they want you to buy. The easy sell. It’s this truth that greatly reduces your ability to be creative in the kitchen, and in many other avenues of your life.
One of my favorite aspects of Small Business, is that we have a voice. Small businesses almost always offer (even encourage), custom orders, inventory recommendations, and a friendly familiar face. They provide quality goods that you can’t find elsewhere, because they have smaller audience to cater to.
As supporters and pillars of the community, the local vendor is an important business to support.