The shop local movement has been in the news for a few years now, and with good reason. When consumers choose to shop locally, they’re contributing to a wide range of benefits for themselves, their community and for the world in general. Finding the best local businesses to patronize can be complicated, but local business directories, search engines and other tools make it far easier for consumers who’d rather support their neighbors with their dollars and business.
The Benefits of Shopping Local
Some of the benefits of local shopping are obvious. Others are a bit more obscure, but also more far-reaching. Shopping locally benefits the community financially, ecologically and culturally in many ways. These are just a few of the reasons to shop locally using USA business directory listings.
- Spending with Local Businesses Keeps More Money in the Community. Local businesses keep more money circulating within the community. When consumers spend their money at big box stores, less than half of those dollars come back to the community, usually in the form of salaries and wages to employees. When that money is spent online at big chains or websites, even less of that money stays in the local economy. By contrast, one study found that for every $100 spent at locally owned businesses, $68 stays in the community. When consumers shop with small local businesses, they help their community prosper and thrive.
- Local Businesses Employ More People. While economists tend to focus on big national chains as job creators, the facts present a very different picture. Between 1993 and 2009, small businesses were responsible for 65 percent of all net new jobs. In fact, more than half of all jobs in the U.S. are provided by small, locally owned businesses of all kinds – and as the local food movement takes off, that percentage also includes farm jobs.
- Communities that Support Local Businesses Build Long-Term Sustainability. Over the past several decades, cities and towns across the country have seen what happens when a major employer or industry moves out of the community. A thriving small business sector helps insulate communities from the devastating losses that have hollowed out so many industrial cities and towns. Because small businesses are more likely to source their raw materials and ingredients locally, hire locally and contribute to local organizations, they help form a sustainable base and improve the self-sufficiency of the entire community.
- Shopping Locally Is More Eco-Friendly. Local shopping benefits the ecology in a couple of ways. Businesses that source their products and services locally generally maintain a lower carbon footprint than big box stores that ship in their products from across the country. And since many local shops are within walking or biking distance, shopping local also tends to reduce the carbon footprints of consumers as well.
- Building Local Traditions and Culture Through Local Shopping. From family traditions to community-wide festivals, local businesses are the cornerstone of building local culture. Parents may take their kids out to a local restaurant after church every Sunday morning, or celebrate birthdays with a visit to a nearby entertainment center, where staff and owners know how to make the celebration special. In many communities, local businesses and craftspeople band together to put on seasonal festivals and activities that highlight the special talents and flavor of the city.
How to Shop Locally with the Help of a USA Local Business Directory
All local business directories are not created equal. Some are far more helpful in finding locally owned businesses than others. Many traditional business directories force users to click through layer after layer of searches to find businesses in their area. Newer business directories like FindUsLocal make it much easier. FindUsLocal.com uses geo-location browser technology to automatically show visitors businesses in their geographical area – no need to even enter a zip code. Even so, shoppers can benefit from a few tips and tricks to help them find exactly the local businesses they want to find.
Check the Front Page
Find Us Local automatically generates a front page that’s personalized for the visitor’s location. The page includes local business listings from some of the most popular categories. Click on the category for a list of business results in that category. Know the name – or partial name – of the business? Just enter it into the search box there. In addition, the front page features upcoming local concerts, sports events and theater productions.
Search the Categories
At the top of each category page, there’s a box where visitors can enter relevant search terms to help refine the local business directory listings. This can be especially handy in larger cities or broad categories.
Use Multiple Search Terms
Think a little outside the box. If a search for bakery doesn’t return many listings, try searching for “cake,” “cupcakes” or “pastries.”
Broaden the Search Geographically
When searching for local businesses, some directories allow customers to define how many miles distant they’re willing to travel. Find Us Local lets visitors refine their searches from within 2 miles to within 100 miles. They can confine searches to businesses within their own city, or broaden it to include the entire state. Keep in mind that some businesses list themselves under all the cities they service – but many only maintain a business listing for the town in which they are located. Broadening or narrowing the search can control the number of listings that are returned.