Danielle Laporte just posted to Instagram that she has cancelled her Amazon Prime membership. The post has 824 comments, including many from people who say they can't imagine life without the convenience of Amazon. I shop on Amazon but very rarely - once a year rarely. I actually very rarely shop outside my local community and hardly ever outside of small businesses. Here are ten of the reasons why: (adapted from the Local Good)
1. They Support the Local Economy: When you purchase at a locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned business (or Internationally owned business - like is the case with most big businesses in Canada), more money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses purchase from other local businesses and service providers. Almost everything I buy for my business and all the services I use for my business, are from other Vancouver or BC-owned businesses. I can think of very few that are outside the province and almost none that are outside of Canada.
2. Non-Profits Benefit: Local business owners donate more to local charities and give back to their community.
3. Unique Businesses Add Character and Charm: The unique character of our community is made up of its businesses. Local businesses play a huge factor in the charm of a neighbourhood and your enjoyment of living there. They also influence the feel of an area and property values. Just take a walk along Main Street and you'll enjoy all the local businesses. Now imagine a walk along Main Street without us!
4. Less Environmental Impact: Small businesses are usually situated along a street that provides a centralized shopping community, much like Main Street. They give people a place to walk and don't contribute to urban sprawl, congestion or habitat loss. They also usually buy their supplies and products from other local businesses bringing less trucks into an area and creating less pollution.
5. Most New Jobs Are Provided By Local Businesses: Small local businesses are the largest employers and the more jobs we have in our local community, the less people commute which also leads to less traffic and pollution. Currently, all employees at Giving Gifts walk to the store which is a win-win for everyone.
6. Customer Service Is Better: When you shop at a small locally-owned business, you are often dealing with the owner directly. The owner loves their business! I guarantee it! They have to in order to persevere at it and put in the effort it takes year-after-year. They want to make sure you love their business too. They also hire people who care. Their staff take pride in working at a small business and being treated as a valued employee.
7. Local Business Owners Invest In Their Communities: Local businesses are owned by people who live in their community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s welfare and future. They care about their community!
8. Public Benefits Far Outweigh Public Cost: Local businesses require very little infrastructure and utilize public services and tax-payer paid services a lot less than chain stores or stores in malls.
9. Competition And Diversity Leads To More Choices: Small businesses care about their community. They adapt and change quickly. A marketplace of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and access to the products and services you want the most.
10. They Actually Care About YOU, A Lot!: Every time you take our your wallet, you are casting a vote for what type of world you'd like. Small businesses respond to their customers needs and values and desires and truly care about each and every one of their customers. You are not one of 100s, likely 1000s, of customers in a day, but you are one of 10 or 20 at a small business. Each and every customer makes a difference to a small business.
I am sure there are so many more reasons, but that is a great start. What Danielle says is true, shopping from a small local business may by inconvenient or a little harder at times, or maybe not. Maybe you'll get outstanding customer service, a lot of thought and care put into your order and items that are high quality shipped directly to you. Maybe you'll be able to walk in and buy a gift that is truly unique. It's true, you may not receive free shipping on everything, but you'll find that a creative and caring human smiled as they packed up your order, creatively hand-wrote your card, wrapped your gift themselves and brought it to the post office, thank you for your purchase during every step along the way. They know that this gift will help them afford hockey for their kid or rent next month. (The two things on my mind today). I say a sincere thank you, sometimes out loud, to every single customer, for every single package we ship. I say a blessing to thank every single person that walks into our store. Unless, of course, you'd rather that a fork lift scan a QR code in an huge warehouse, drop your item into polyester bag, print your gift note and send it off while the company owner buys more things with his $156.6 billion dollars or another similar scenario.
I just got an order from a customer who took the time to write me an email. She summed it up perfectly: "I wish you great success with what you are doing. If all companies could be as socially conscious as yours, what a better world this would be." Sincerely, Katie
It may take a bit more effort, but as consumers we are the ones making the choices and we get to decide which businesses have great success and thrive.
- Love Lisa