5 Tips for Shopping Local

[picapp src=”7/0/4/5/Steamboat_Winter_Carnival_2966.jpg?adImageId=6860296&imageId=3461828″ width=”234″ height=”154″ /]Thanks to Phil Reed of  Vacuums and More in Lincoln City, OR for sending me the link to this article from MSN City Guides.  It’ s directed toward your customers.

The article, by John Rossheim,  begins by appealing to shoppers’ civic pride and their desire to help their fellow citizens.  If that doesn’t move them, Rossheim points out that $68 of every $100 spent with local merchants stays in the community compared to just $43 out of $100 when you spend it with a national chain.

The article points to a few “buy local” programs including my personal favorite, the 3/50 Project.  Here are the five tips:

Visit an independent before heading for a big box. The article suggests that the shopper think of one item that could be purchased locally and to scan local advertising before heading out to shop.

Patronize local merchants who add value. Shoppers should consider more than just price when they purchase.  Professional guidance may not be necessary when you buy laundry detergent or toilet paper, but in other cases the expertise of the merchant often more than offsets a slightly higher price, if the price is actually higher.  Often it isn’t.

Hold the plastic and pay cash. The author throws this on in even though he fails to cite an advantage to the shopper.  Of course there’s a big advantage to the merchant if the customer opts to pay cash.

Beware “local-washing”. Some national merchants pretend to be “local” though I can’t imagine anyone would actually fall for it.   If there’s a competitor in your market doing this, I wouldn’t hesitate to point it out both in-store and in my advertising.

Advertisements

The WSJ on Buying Local

3_50 project smallIn case you missed it, here’s a link to a recent Wall Street Journal article featuring the 3/50 Project.  Frankly, the article isn’t that great, but it does highlight the experience of one small business owner’s success with her “buy local” efforts.

We don’t have the resources of our larger competitors when it comes to advertising and PR, so it’s important when any “buy local” program gets national exposure.

Of course, 3/50 works because it appeals to the consumer’s needs as well as the merchant’s.  Pick three local businesses that you couldn’t live without and help them stay in business.  It’s a win/win.  Contrast that approach with the Chicago pen dealer’s personal plea.  He got a brief bump in sales but it was short lived.  Let’s be honest, it’s one thing to spend $50.00 that I was going to spend anyway to ensure that my local hardware store or diner is going to stay around.  It’s something else to ask me to buy a $300 pen to support a store that sells $300 pens.

Check out the article and if you haven’t already, check out the 3/50 Project web site.  There’s a permanent link to it in the left hand column of this page.

Supporting “Local” Small Business When You’re Out of Town

3_50 project smallThis post is inspired by a comment on the 3/50 Project facebook page.  [In case you missed it, I wrote about the 3/50 Project earlier.  There’s also a link to their home page on your left.

Lili Johnstone wrote:  “Just wanted to say that even when you are far from home, you can still support local stores via the web. Many locally-owned, small business owners have created a cyberspace presence. Next time when shopping online search some of your local favorites.”

An excellent idea for many purchases and I couldn’t agree more.  But when traveling, there are a lot of things that you need to buy from a brick and mortar merchant.  If we support “buy local” at home, then it only makes sense to do the same when you travel.  Every town has excellent local merchants and we should patronize them just as we hope that travellers will visit our stores.

In my response to Lili’s comment, I mentioned restaurants.  When I travel, I never eat at chain places (with the exception of Waffle House.  Sorry, I’m addicted to the Fiesta Omelet.  Nobody’s perfect.))  Not only does eating at local restaurants support the local economy, it provides a local experience that you can’t get at the chains.  You almost always find better food and more interesting people at Mom’s Diner than you do at McDonald’s.

As the 3/50 movement spreads and more and more of their window stickers begin to appear, look for them when you travel.  Patronize your fellow small business owner.  It’s good for all of us.

A Win/Win for Buy Local

bunnAround here we’re pretty much coffee fanatics.  At least my bride is.  The doctor took me off caffeine a couple of years ago so I guess I’m a faux-coffee fanatic.  Anyway, recently our faithful Bunn started leaking water.  Not a lot of water, but enough to be a pain in the neck.  There’s nothing worse than dropping the mail on the counter and watching the water-soaked envelopes floating away.

So, my wife began a quest for a replacement.  There was no debate that it had to be another Bunn.  Our old faithful machine had lasted for many years.  Besides, it’s American-made.    The problem was the color.  She wanted white but most stores carry it only in black.

Today she purchased her brand-new, American-made caffeine dispenser from Handyman Hardware, a True Value located just a block from our house and most definitely a locally-owned business.  And the price?  Right in line with the chains advertised prices.

It’s just another example that local doesn’t mean “high priced” and in fact local can mean better selection, often the difference between what you really want and what you have to settle for.