Big box stores will lead you to believe the convenience of a one-stop location for all your family’s needs, from prescription eye glasses to new tires, is going to make your life more complete, save time and, of course, save money with their low prices.
In the case of big box home improvement stores, size does matter and bigger is not necessarily better. Although everything you need for your home improvement project might be available in one place, you are doing a disservice to the community and the local retailers anxious for your business when you choose a national chain over a locally owned business.
When you shop at a locally owned business you stimulate the local economy. Locally owned businesses generally purchase goods from other locally owned businesses, utilize business services like accountants, office supply stores, cleaning services and others, enhancing the tax base of the community. Some studies have shown that for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $74 stays in the community. When you spend $100 at a big box store, a mere $43 remains locally.
Locally owned businesses are owned by people in the community. They coach Little League teams, volunteer with 4-H and make donations to local charities and nonprofit organizations. They volunteer at the food pantry and at schools. They are the community and, like you, want to make it better.
Customer service is always better at a locally owned business. The man that assisted you at the hardware store might sit next to you in church next week. You can get to know the people that serve you at locally owned shops; they are, after all, your friends and neighbors. Employees of locally owned businesses know their stuff. They are better qualified to advise you with new deck construction or a kitchen remodel when that is their specialty.
Locally owned businesses hire local people. When jobs are available in the community fewer people have to commute to get to work. Less commuting means less traffic and pollution. Less traffic and pollution means a healthier place to live and work.
Locally owned businesses can revitalize downtown areas that were once the hub of activity before strip malls and shopping centers dominated communities. Where once you could park your car and walk to several businesses nowadays we drive, sometimes many miles to get to a destination. Most home improvement projects send us back to the store repeatedly for the items we forgot or must exchange. We could end up doing a lot of driving.
Local businesses have what you need. Some customers are surprised to find the prices at locally owned businesses are competitive with larger national chains. Because their overhead is not as high, they can offer prices that are comparable if not lower than discount chains.
Competition and diversity in local businesses offer consumers more choices, better prices and adds to the character of a community. Locally owned businesses take on the personality of the people that own them and the people that work in them. These people are a part of the fabric of the community and add to the richness of our daily lives.
When you are ready to plan your next home improvement project, stop in at your local plumbing, electric, carpet, lumber, lighting, hardware, appliance, siding, window, roofing, garden or fencing shop and ask them if they can assist you. They will look you in the eye and say yes, yes we can.
Published: April 24, 2012