In my area, there is a growing movement called "Cape Breton First", initially I was hesitant in getting to know about it, because recently the " ____ first!" expression has come to mean "no 'foreigners' allowed!". However, this movement is all about putting your money back into the local economy by supporting local businesses. In the spirit of community support and wellbeing, here are 10 reasons why you should buy local.
1. Skip the CEO: Rather than enabling people at the top of a very long chain to add an extra zero to their bank accounts, you are allowing a family to add extra food to their dinner table, buy clothes, put gas in their tanks and do enjoyable activities. This can also lead to them supporting locally; I think this is a better chain to have!
2. Customisation: If you walk into a big box store, you can't change the way something looks to suit your preference - you're just getting what a marketing team deemed to be the latest trend. If
you search any social media, you'll find small creators who take commissions; that is, personalisation of paintings, clothes, coffee mugs, bags, etc., done just the way you want it!
3. Discover A New Menu: If you only go to fastfood restaurants when you want takeout, you're missing out on a lot! The lack of variety in fast food gets old quickly. Look around your city for international cuisine. In my city, a lot of International Students have been opening restaurants; they are the ones who need your money the most! You'll be helping a student build their foundation in this country, while you learn about their country through eating. A habit I try to keep in mind is to order something from a menu that you can't pronounce. Those are often the most adventurous plates!
4. Charity: Sometimes these small local stores do the most charity work for their neighbourhood. When you buy a designated item or spend a certain amount, a percentage of those funds actually go toward helping people in need, rather than becoming a tax write-off for a large company.
5. Sense of Community: You tend to get a more personalised experience when you go into a small shop or restaurant. The owners get to know their regular customers on a first-name basis and it's a more familiar transaction: genuine smiles and good conversation, outside of the cold "Do you want a bag for that" "Sign up for our credit card" "Thankyou-haveagoodday".
6. Ethical Production: You can know for certain who made the items you bought, how well they were paid, and how their working conditions are. Internationally, (and perhaps even at a national level), there are many instances of human rights abuse, forced child labour, unsafe/unsanitary working conditions and other injustices committed by large brands.
7. Access to Speciality Items: If you have a particular dietary requirement, you might feel more at-ease knowing you can confirm with a shop owner the validity of the item you are buying. For example, you may need your meat processed a particular way, or you have allergies and worry about cross contamination. You can't necessarily know for sure how true the labelling in a large supermarket is.
These are just a few of the most important reasons to choose a small shop, grocery store or restaurant over a chain. Consider replacing one of your usual supermarkets or department stores with a local small business, and see for yourself if you are reminded of one of these topics.