Have you ever taken a sip of wine or coffee and just been blown away by the flavor? Maybe it was a hint of sweet black cherry, a bone-dry woodiness, or an unexpected floral note. Whatever it was, it just made the whole glass absolutely sing.
If so, then you’ve experienced what’s known as terroir. That’s French for “land,” and it describes how local elements like soil and climate show up in the flavor of a finished product, reflecting the unique landscape where it was made. In other words, terroir is an example of how something is wonderful because it’s local.
The same goes for local businesses. They have their own kind of terroir, reflecting the cultures, habits, rhythms, and lifestyles of the area. A corner cafe with a signature drink you can’t get anywhere else. Handmade accessories from locally blown glass and reclaimed wood. A pet store where the staff know the names of every dog, cat, bird, bunny, and lizard in town.
But as delightful as local businesses are, they’re also delicate— feeling the impact of economic swings much more than their big box counterparts and needing the support of their communities in order to stay in business for the long haul. In this article, we’ll look at why it’s so important to shop local, what happens when you shop local, and how Melio is giving a big boost to small business owners in 2022 with its Shop Local campaign.
Why it’s important to shop local
Even though most would agree that small businesses are both amazing and essential, they do face two main criticisms: they’re more expensive and less convenient. After all, you can get everything you need (from donuts to dustpans to diapers) in one stop at a large corporate chain, and likely for less than you’d pay at locally owned shops. But those criticisms overlook the largely hidden benefits of shopping local, of which there are many. Here are just a few.
You get to know (and build) your community
In a largely digital age, the opportunities for authentic, in-person interactions aren’t what they used to be. But shopping locally still remains a tried and true way to connect with the people who live and work right next to you.
Whether it’s picking up your daily coffee from the corner cafe, getting your haircut at the mom-and-pop barbershop, buying your clothes from the funky vintage shop, or something else, patronizing local businesses build the bonds that give color and warmth to community life.
You support your local economy
The benefits of shopping local don’t stop at social opportunities — they also extend to economic ones. When they’re successful, local businesses are also local job creators, employing full-time and part-time staff as well as local vendors, contractors, accountants, and more. In providing livelihoods to people in the area, they help keep resources within the community rather than funneled to a corporate headquarters hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.
And we’ve all seen how the profits of large corporations get spent. But a purchase from a local shop directly supports the people behind the business. It becomes a car payment, a roof repair, a set of school supplies, or a series of ballet lessons for the family’s children. What’s more, small business owners also tend to donate more to community initiatives than large businesses — about 250% more, according to one survey.
You get great personal service
Local businesses are very often labors of love, with the owners having a real passion for what they do. That enthusiasm is contagious, which usually makes for a great customer experience, especially if you’re a regular. Big corporate chains simply can't match this kind of personal touch.
It’s way better for the environment
Perhaps, the most important benefit of shopping locally is that it reduces environmental impact in several key ways. First, local shops are more accessible and can often be reached on foot, by bike, or on local transportation. Compare that to the carbon footprint left by driving for 30 minutes to a big chain store miles away from your home.
Also, local businesses often use local materials, which means fewer fossil fuels are expended to ship products from far-off locations. With the shipping industry currently responsible for releasing 1 billion metric tons of CO2 annually, it’s more important than ever to prioritize sustainable alternatives.
Challenges facing local businesses
By their nature, local businesses tend to be niche. They focus on a specific product or service and do it wonderfully well. But this specialist approach means their revenues fluctuate during the year as demand ebbs and flows. Ice cream is a hot commodity in August, but a hard sell in December, no matter how many cool artisanal flavors it has coming in. Because of this, local businesses need to make the most of their high-demand seasons, so they can weather the low-demand ones.
Local small businesses need our support — so Melio is giving them some
At Melio, we’re committed to helping small and local business owners succeed. We know how much vision, courage, and good old-fashioned elbow grease goes into launching a business, and we’re invested in supporting these dreamers and doers to reach their goals. It’s right there in our mission statement to “keep small business in business.”
This year marks our third annual Small Business Season, where we spotlight small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) by giving them a chance to win some big-time exposure to help them stand out against the big-budget corporations when they need it most — the busy holiday season.
In 2022, we’re turning our focus to local businesses in Florida with the Shop Local campaign. If you’re a Florida-based SMB, this is your opportunity to get noticed and get more customers in the door! You can win:
- A customer billboard for your business
- A professional photoshoot
- A digital ad in a local publication