- Learn About Local Businesses
To learn more about local businesses in your area, set aside a day to explore your town and see what it has to offer. Since part of the benefit of shopping local comes from being able to run errands on foot, leave your car at home and focus on the area within walking distance, if possible.
Start at one end of the main street or one corner of the central shopping district and work your way along, making note of all the businesses you see along the way. When you see one that looks useful or interesting, stop and make a note of its name, its location, and its hours. Then, the next time you’re looking for a jewelry shop, for example, you’ll know exactly where to find one.
- Shop Locally
Once you’ve identified local businesses in your area, the next step is to make shopping at them part of your usual routine. This can be a challenge if you’re on a tight budget, since local businesses often can’t match the low prices of big-box stores. However, there are several ways to get around this problem:
- Budget for it. Set aside a small sum in your personal budget each month specifically for local shopping.
- Go local for services. Goods are often cheaper at big-box stores that sell cheap, mass-produced wares. However, services are often just as cheap or even cheaper when you buy them locally.
- Shop local for the holidays. Shopping local is a great choice for holiday gifts, because a present feels more special when it comes from your own hometown. Each year, American Express sponsors “Small Business Saturday” after Thanksgiving to encourage people to start their holiday shopping at local businesses, and many independent businesses offer special sales on this day.
- Eat Locally
Not all local businesses are useful to everyone. For instance, a children’s clothing store isn’t of much interest if you don’t have kids. However, everybody has to eat, so shopping locally for food is one of the best ways to support your local economy.
- Bank Locally
Another way to keep your money in your community is to literally keep your money at a local community bank or credit union, rather than at a large national bank. Banking locally offers several benefits: lower cost, better service, and supporting your local community.