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Every community’s beating heart is small business. Small businesses are critical to thriving communities and the success of our local economies. However, the current pandemic has had a significant financial impact on our beloved small businesses. Over the last year, tens of thousands of small businesses have closed, many of them indefinitely. Small businesses in the retail, events, travel and foodservice sectors have suffered disproportionately as conventional offline channels were shuttered. Each store closure leaves a hole that is far larger than a vacant storefront. The community loses money, employment, and services that would have gone back into the local economy if the now-closed business had stayed open. 

It is not assured that any small business owner will be able to keep their doors open after all of this. But fortunately, as consumers, we can change and promote our spending habits by influencing others around us. Small businesses are critical to a resilient and robust economy, and it is our duty and to help them and ensure they survive in the long haul.

But why should we help small businesses in our communities? What gives them such clout that they can alter our consumption from large corporations for the better? Well, here are five reasons why small businesses are the real deal: 

1. Small businesses are lifelong dreams of ordinary people

The first reason is self-evident: you are helping ordinary people in realizing their dreams. The young mother who opened her first nail salon, the underdog who turned his passion for coffee into a business, and the newcomer who serves the cuisine of his homeland. When you spend your hard-earned money in a small business, you’re contributing to a lifelong goal without exerting any effort. Instead of making some CEO in another country even wealthier, you’re helping support and develop an individual’s idea and helping them feed their families.

2. Small businesses have a significant impact on the economy

When local businesses grow, the owners employ more employees to meet the demand. In that process, local residents are usually granted these jobs, allowing them to work close to their homes and avoid lengthy commutes to urban areas. Besides, small businesses often pay higher wages than big box stores like Amazon, which are infamous for underpaying their employees. In addition to that, Small businesses in the United States are a job-creation engine that creates wealth and prosperity. In 2019  the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Profile demonstrated that small businesses employ 47.3 percent of the U.S. private workforce. So the next time you’re deciding between a local option and a slightly cheaper option at a big box store, consider the people you help employ.

3. Small businesses give back (more) to your community

Small business owners are likely to invest their profits in the communities where they work. Whether it’s for their business expenditures or personal reasons, the money you spend at your local restaurant or beauty salon would certainly benefit you or anyone in your community. According to Civic Economics, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in the community, while for every $100 spent at a chain store, just $43 stays in the community. Hence, for every dime you spend in a local business, you’ll be giving back to your community and giving the local economy a chance to flourish.

4. Small businesses provide greater access to product diversity 

Small companies have the same access to suppliers as big-box retailers do. If a small business doesn’t have the items you want or need, ask them; they’re usually more accommodating and able to customize an order for you. You’ll be surprised to find unique twists on classic items as well as original concepts of products you didn’t realize you wanted until you stepped into that store. What’s more is that most Local producers infuse their products with their own personal experiences, expertise, and creativity.

5. Small businesses provide better customer service 

Big box stores are only interested in making a profit so that they can become even wealthier and pay their shareholders a significant return on their investment. And that could come at the cost of customer satisfaction. Unlike big box stores, small business owners fight to stay afloat. One of their greatest advantages over big box stores is the ability to offer more personalized, hands-on, and unforgettable customer service. Small companies will ensure that you get a reliable product that will provide you with a unique twist on something you’ve seen from a well-known brand elsewhere. Sure, you’ll pay a little extra for it, but the profits will go back into the business, and money will circulate in the local economy.

Expand the horizons beyond the comfort of big box stores and practice shopping small. Find whatever your neighborhood, town, or city has to offer. It is more critical than ever that we love and value it in order to keep it alive.