There is a great deal of talk about supporting local businesses during the pandemic. The reasons for this are somewhat obvious, particularly during a pandemic. Many small local businesses have been forced to close for extended periods of time, and when they have been allowed to re-open, they have faced serious restrictions on how they have been able to do business. Businesses have tried to shift in response to the pandemic restrictions. After all, by their very definition of small business owners and entrepreneurs, they are forward thinking, and creative.
But supporting local businesses is good practice in non-pandemic times too. Supporting local is directly linked to creating sustainable communities. So how does supporting local encourage and foster sustainability? When you purchase locally, the money goes back into the local economy. It makes our communities more resilient. Local businesses are more able to respond to community demands. They retain a flexibility that bigger box stores, for example, do not.
Local food shopping encourages eating things produced closer to home. Often this means healthier choices, and reduces the environmental impact of your food. Food miles are reduced. Local food shopping encourages smaller farms and market gardens. These farms and gardens support eating in season, often bringing the community closer to understanding how and where their food is produced. Smaller farms grow a diversity of products for local consumption. Smaller producers are often dedicated to land stewardship, and often grow more food per acre. By shopping locally, our smaller farmers have a chance of staying in business. They often support a diversity of crops that bigger growers do not. It is imperative to maintain the genetic diversity of our food, both plants and animals. Shopping locally encourages smaller producers to diversity, supporting interconnected systems of food production.
Local businesses give back to the communities. They shop from other businesses, support charities, service clubs, and local fundraising efforts, from hospitals to schools. They live in the community and are more engaged in every aspect of life. When local businesses source products locally, the supply chain is less vulnerable to disruption, less transportation costs are incurred, and less resources are wasted in shipping and transportation.
Shopping locally can contribute to the unique feel or identity of a community. One-of-a-kind businesses are an important part of the distinct character of a community. This identity fosters more sense of community, contributes to tourism, and helps to draw skilled workers and other entrepreneurs. Diversity leads to more choice in product and service.
Local shopping is greener. Developing, re-developing, or maintaining the city or town centre, keeping it a viable place to shop and do business, encourages less urban sprawl.
Local businesses provide local jobs. They employ people from the community.
Shopping locally during and after the pandemic makes a stronger community.