Today we can shop at any location at any time. Smartphones, computers, tablets, and now wristwatches can all connect you with businesses and products whenever you have time to shop. This is a significant change from the past when you had to figure out what time a brick and mortar shop opened or closed. Some things haven’t changed, though, even with the popularity of online shopping.
In communities across the nation, there are small, large, local or corporate businesses all trying to appeal to the shopper and earn business. An important thing for consumers to keep in mind while making selections about purchases should not just be price, but also the quality and economic impact that item might have.
We all know the big-box stores when we hear their names, Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond, Barnes and Noble, etc. These stores serve large amounts of people all over the country with reasonable prices – sometimes. They entice the buyer with convenience, selection, price and nowadays, familiarity. In the “olden days”, familiarity meant going to different, smaller stores to get specified items of various shops, making it local but also inconvenient.
Walmart offers a complete one-stop shop for a camping trip; including a tent, gas, duct tape, generator, fishing poles, worms, beer, marshmallows, burgers and a grill. At one point in time, that would have five different smaller stores but now, they are all wrapped into one large store.
The crux of the conversation that will not go away is the conscious decision to shop at a big box store vs. a locally owned business. Should consumers buy at a big grocery store or a local business that boasts locally grown, farm fresh vegetables or locally harvested, fresh honey. In my experience, the products at these smaller, local stores taste better. These local businesses also support local advertisers, suppliers, accountants, attorneys, architects, designers, cleaning services, computer technicians, sign companies, and employees.
It’s not a bad thing to stop at a big box store on the way out of town to get supplies for a camping trip on any given weekend and head out right away. However, if the weekend is going to be spent at home, why not visit the local food co-op to purchase the next week’s vegetables and meats? They were grown by local farmers, sent to that local co-op, and when purchased, that money stays right in the community. In turn, the economy becomes better for the local shopper and gives him or her more money to spend locally, thus boosting the economy even further.
In an ever changing world, new ways to increase convenience and reduce prices will always pop up. However, one thing that consumers need to remember is each other and their community. Buying locally creates a sense of community like none other and is good for the local economy. So, perhaps this weekend you can find some new shops and enjoy a fresh take on shopping, literally and figuratively.