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Shop Local with Local Business Directories – Tips and Tricks to Help Find Local Businesses

Tips-and-TricksThe 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.

Want More Local Business? Here are 3 Ways to Get It.

Shop_Local_LogoIf you run a local business, chances are you’re a pillar of your community. After all, local business owners love to immerse themselves in the community to get to know their customers and build goodwill with the people they serve. And in the past, that was enough to ensure that people from the area visit their shops and restaurants. In fact, if you read marketing books and articles from just ten years ago, you’ll find that very advice given when asked how to bring in local business to a store.

Boy have times changed.

The internet has brought about a less intimate environment for local consumers because so many transactions and social interactions are conducted online. That’s why today’s local business owners need to approach their community differently, and that includes all their marketing efforts.

Many Local Business Owners Aren’t Online

A recent study conducted by a business to business research firm called Clutch shows that almost half of all local business owners don’t have a website. That’s because so many of them don’t believe they need one because all of their customers come from the local area. But that kind of thinking can get local shop owners in trouble, because the truth is, people today do everything, and we mean everything, online. If they want to order a birthday present for a friend, they go online to find US local gift shops. If they want to find the nearest place to mail a letter, they go online to find US post office locations. In short, if a local business can’t be found online, chances are they aren’t going to be open for very long.

So, where does that leave local business owners who aren’t yet online? Basically, you have 3 options when it comes to marketing your local business. Let’s take a look at your options.

Stick to What You’re Doing

There are a lot of local business owners who believe they can keep doing things the way they’ve always done them and they will get along just fine. Unfortunately, that attitude can be attributed to the rash of local store closings across the country. In fact, experts say that this year has seen more local store closings than any other year, including the Great Depression. It seems that a lot of local shop owners just aren’t keeping up with society and the way consumers choose to find US local businesses, and that’s leading to their demise.

Hopefully, you realize that even though we listed this as an option, doing things the way you’ve always done them truly isn’t an option if you plan to stay in business.

Create Your Own Website

If you realize that you need a strong online presence in order to survive in this culture, then you’ve probably thought about building your own company website. And while you may be financially able to take on this increasingly expensive proposition, you may not understand what all if involved in it. For example, in order to build a website, you will need to choose and register your domain name, create a plan for the pages, hire a designer and coder, find someplace to host it, and then make sure it looks professional and is functional for the people who will use it.

In addition to building a website—and paying the professionals thousands of dollars to do it—you’ll have to consistently market it to keep it at the top of the search engine rankings so people can find it. This also will cost thousands of dollars and if you stop, your rankings will plummet.

Create a Local Business Listing

The final option is the best according to most local business experts. Sites like FindUsLocal.com allow local shop owners to create local business listings so they can have an online presence without the arduous expense of a website. These local business directories consistently market their websites so your business listing will be seen by all those consumers who go online to find US local post office listings, US local restaurants and shops. And the best news? It won’t cost you a cent.

You really can’t afford going without an online presence, and a local business directory is clearly the best option. If you haven’t already done so, why not head over to FindUsLocal.com right now and find out how creating your own local business listing can help your business by getting it in front of buying customers.

Why Local Businesses are Better than Big Box Stores

local-helping-localF-300x245Do you love the local community you live in? Do you want to see it grow and prosper? What if I told you that your city or town could enjoy increased economic benefits if you began to ignore the larger chain stores and instead bought from local business owners? In fact, studies have shown just how important it is to patronize your local shops, which we’ve outlined below. Here are some of the most important reasons why you should shop locally.

More Economic Impact for Your Community

When you shop at local stores, more of the money you spend stays in your community. For instance, a study was done in Chicago and in it, researchers looked at ten restaurants, retail shops and service businesses in the area that were owned by locals. They determined that for every $100 these local businesses earned, they invested $68 back into the community by hiring local employees, doing business with other local shop owners, and by hiring professionals like lawyers and printers who worked in the community. On the other hand, big box stores that earned that same $100 only reinvested $43 back into the community. That’s $25 for every $100 spent that could go towards your community rather than the pockets of big business.

Another study was done in Kent County, Michigan where researchers determined that if the locals were to switch just 10 percent of their business to local shop owners, 1,600 new jobs would be created in the area, which would result in $53 million in additional payroll and $140 million in economic activity for the area.

More Jobs for the Community

It’s a myth that big box stores create more jobs in a local community. The fact is that studies have shown that they reduce the amount of overall jobs in an area. In one study about the impact of Walmart and local jobs, it was shown that when a big box store opens in an area, it typically represents a net loss of 150 retail jobs. One reason for this is that other businesses experience a decline when a big box store opens, and that results in the laying off of employees. These local business experience a drop in sales because people spend the same amount of money—they just begin spending it at the chain store instead of their local shops.

More Shopping Choices

Sure, big box stores are huge, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have more shopping options if one moves to your town. Here’s the reason: the big box stores are built so large for one reason, and that is to eliminate the competition. That means every store that closes in your area is one less place you’ll be able to shop. For example, imagine that a large chain store opened in your area and it carried shoes as a part of its offerings. This caused the local shoe store to close down, and that not only resulted in less economic benefits for the area and a loss of jobs for its employees, but also a drastically reduced selection for shoppers.

What makes this even worse is that many times, these large stores move into an area and offer low prices to drive away the competition (aka local businesses), and then once they’re the only game in town, they raise their prices, leaving local consumers with both high prices and no shopping alternatives.

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to shop local in your community. It will help keep the area prosperous, maintain jobs, and ensure that the local residents always have plenty of good options for whatever it is they’re looking for. Be sure you check with your local business directories to find the best local businesses near you. What about you? Have you visited your local shops today?

How Shopping Locally Helps Support the Local Community

buy-localAre you someone who makes it a point to shop in your local community whenever you can? If so, then you’re probably aware of the most commonly quoted benefits such as bringing the community together, reducing your environmental footprint, and knowing who you buy from.

But there is another important benefit about shopping locally: it helps others in your community.

It’s true, local business do more for the local economy than big box or chain stores, so if you want to put your dollars to work in your area, shopping local is a great way to do that.

Let’s take a look at a few ways local businesses do this.

Charity Contributions

When you spend your money in a local store, that money tends to stay in the community, and some of it goes to charities and other programs that help the locals. For instance, the local business owners use their profits to pay for community schools, churches, community functions and fundraising events that benefit local people. So when you keep your dollars close to home, you can rest assure that those dollars will stay in your community.

Local Dollars Grow the Community

In addition to charitable events, the profits from local business help keep the local economy robust and strong. Studies have shown that for every $100 local store owners receive, they use it to hire more local employees, buy more products and services from other local companies, and of course, contribute more to local causes than the large chains in the local area do.

In fact, one study conducted in Chicago shows that when a big box chain moves into a local area, it tends to hurt that area economically. The study showed that for every $100 earned by a local business, it resulted in $68 in additional economic activity in the community. In contrast, for every $100 a big box store earns in a community, it results only about $43 in increased economic activity for that community. Think about it—that’s twenty-five dollars less that goes into your local economy for every $100 that you spend at a big box store instead of a local business.

Kent County, Michigan decided to study the matter, and after looking at the numbers closely, they determined that the community would gain 1,600 new jobs and $140 million in increased economic activity if local residents began shopping locally just 10 percent more of the time. In other words, if every local resident went to their local grocer instead of a chain grocer one times out of ten, they would make a significant impact.

As you can see, shopping locally can be a big boon to any local community, and will help the local residents in many different ways. If you’re not sure which local stores you should shop at, be sure to check out the local reviews and business profiles on local business directories such as FindUsLocal.

And if you haven’t begun to patronize your local businesses, maybe you should think about making the switch today. After all, wouldn’t you rather see your hard-earned money benefit the local community that you life in instead of lining the pockets of some big box store?

Are Your Reusable Shopping Bags Helping the Environment—or Hurting it?

Shopping-Bags-Strawberry-ready-optimized-720x600So, you carry a reusable shopping back so you can help decrease the impact of plastic pollution on the environment. That’s great news, but did you know that how you carry your shopping bag determines whether or not you are actually helping or hurting the environment?

It’s true. A few recent reports and studies show that not only which type of bag you carry matters, but how you carry it.

How Often Do You Carry Your Reusable Shopping Bag?

One of the most surprising things about the report is that some reusable shopping bags are actually worse for the environment than plastic bags. For instance, the environmental impact from canvas and cotton shopping bags are much harder on the environment unless you carry them a lot. You would have to carry a canvas shopping bag 171 times in order to offset the environmental impact of just one plastic bag. And cotton shopping bags? You would have to carry it every single day of the year—365 times—in order to equal the environmental impact of a single plastic bag. In fact, recent studies from the UK show that plastic bags are 200 times less harmful to the climate than reusable cotton shopping bags.

But what about the other types of bags—those made of polypropylene and polyester, like the LA Pops bags we’re so fond of? Turns out these types of bags are much better for the environment because the amount of times you have to carry them in order to reduce environmental impact is negligible. In other words, if you want to do all you can to help clean up plastic pollution and help keep the environment clean, experts recommend that you use one of the synthetic materials for your shopping bags.

Shop Local Clean and Green

Shopping local is a great way to reduce greenhouse emissions and help leave the earth in great shape for future generations. And in order to maximize that benefit, you should pay attention to which type of reusable shopping bag you carry. Remember, if you carry canvas or cotton, you may be doing more harm than good unless you carry them on most days. It seems the best alternative is to carry a polyester shopping bag. After all, you not only want to benefit your local community by shopping local, but the environment. And carrying the right kind of shopping bag is the one of the easiest ways to do just that.

How to Cash in on the Buy Local Movement

SackOfMoney_L1In our last post, we talked about what’s driving the buy local movement, and how today’s consumers demand more from the businesses they buy from. We learned that consumers want to do business with local shops because they trust them more than large corporations, want relationships with the shop owners, and want their money to go to local businesses so it can be reinvested in the community.

If the article inspired you, you may now be wondering how you can best take advantage of the buy local movement and attract those consumers from your area who are committed to supporting local businesses. Here are three actionable steps you can take to draw the buy local crowd to your local business.

Be a Part of the Community

It’s not enough to simply have a local business in a community—you’ll also need to establish yourself as an active and contributing member of that community. Do this by partnering with local charities and contributing a portion of sales or goods to them, or be an active voice for local causes. For instance, you can support and seek contributions for a local resident diagnosed with a disease, or for a family who is struggling financially. Once the community understands that you care about them and the area, they will reward you by frequenting your shop.

Make Sure You Offer Quality

Even those consumers who are determined to support local businesses want quality and value for their money. Don’t think that you can sell low quality goods and the locals will still patronize your shop. Instead, offer the locals the best quality you can, and be sure to provide value to their purchases. For instance, you can offer longer warranties, stellar customer service, or the best quality products available in the local area. All of these things will add up in consumer’s minds and make them loyal customers to your business.

Develop Strong Relationships

One of the reasons local consumers want to shop with local businesses is because it gives them an opportunity to form strong relationships with the people they buy from. As a local store owner, you have the perfect opportunity to interact with customers and get to know their preferences and build their trust. This will not only help build loyalty among your regular shoppers, but it will also likely result in referrals to their friends and family because they’ll be so pleased. That’s huge because a recent study shows that 77 percent of people are more likely to do business with a company that was referred to them by a friend or family member.

Get Listed on Local Directories

Don’t forget that one of the most important things you can do when reaching out to the local crowd is to make sure they can find you. The buy local consumers don’t look to large search engines to find local businesses, but use local business directories to find the local shops they want to patronize. If you haven’t already claimed your listing on FindUsLocal, do it right now so you’re business will in front of the people who are committed to shopping at local businesses in their area.

The buy local movement is huge, but remember that in order to become a part of it, you’ll need to do more than have a store in the area. Instead, follow the three suggestions above and soon, you’ll find that the local residents in your area will begin to view your business as a relevant part of the community—and begin supporting you by shopping in your store.


What’s Behind the Shop Local Movement?

f36e2230dd394db11f336916903a30bfIn the past, consumers were prone to shop at big box stores, which popped up all over the nation in shopping centers on every street corner. These big box stores offered the same products across the nation, and eventually, consumers began to get tired of seeing so many other people wearing the same dresses as they did, using the same dishes at dinner parties, and even have the same lawn ornaments as their neighbors.

In other words, consumers wanted something different—something that would more reflect their personalities and likes and dislikes—and they didn’t want corporate America limiting what they could purchase.

This is the sentiment behind the Shop Local movement that has swept the nation. More and more local businesses are becoming relevant in their communities as the locals embrace them.

But the shop local movement is complex and there are many reasons why local consumers are seeking out community shops to do business with. Here are three other reasons why, as a local business owner, you may see more foot traffic in your store.

Shop Local Stimulates the Local Economy

People everywhere are waking up to the fact that if they buy local, those dollars go back into their own economy. In the past, people had no problem buying products that were produced in China and other parts of the world, but as the national conversation has centered on bringing that business back to the United States, people have made efforts to do their part.

Another thing that local consumers know is that small businesses create most of the nation’s jobs—and have for the past 17 years. That means a lot to people who are out of work—or see their friends and family struggling in this economy—want to do all they can by keeping their dollars at home.

Shop Local Builds Relationships

Today’s consumers also want relationships with the people they buy from, and that can’t be achieved with corporate America and the big box stores. But when someone buys local in their community, they’ll likely get to interact with the business owner, and if not, at least develop a great relationship with the salespeople. The shop local movement has helped build solid relationships all across the nation as consumers are interacting with the people they buy from.

Shop Locals Gives Shoppers Peace of Mind

As news stories from across the globe continue to warn of unsafe practices regarding food production in other countries, child labor, scandals, and large corporations that refuse to pay their workers a living wage, more consumers are against supporting those practices. When they shop local, they feel assured that the people they’re buying from share their same values, support ethical practices. In short, these consumers trust in the local owner’s products and services.

How can You Take Advantage of the Shop Local Movement?

If you’re a local business owner and haven’t yet seen an increase in sales from the shop local crowd, don’t worry. There are some specific steps you can take to get the attention of these shoppers and put your local business on the map. We’ll discuss a plan in detail in the next post, but for now, you should head over to the FindUsLocal website and list your business on our local business directory immediately. If you don’t, consumers looking in your area for a business just like yours may never even know you exist.

How to Maintain Your Bike so You’ll Never Miss a Local Ride

fixingachainIf you’re into cycling, then you’re already aware of the pure bliss you feel as you pedal down local streets and interact with the community. In fact, that’s why so many bicyclists have begun shopping local—on their bikes. Sure, it’s easier to take a car or other form of transportation, but when you want to enjoy the locale, nothing beats a bike.

Except when it breaks down.

Luckily, there are some simple maintenance tasks you can do on a regular basis that will keep you pedaling nonstop down those local streets. (Aside from always traveling with a bike repair kit, of course.)

Let’s take a look at three of them.

Keep Your Bicycle Chain Clean

When your chain gets built up with dirt and road grime, it can cause all sorts of problems. For instance, it can lead to difficulty while shifting, and even reduce the amount of power you have when you ride. On top of that, a lot of dirt on your chain can cause it to fail, which means you’ll have to replace them more often.

The best way to clean your bicycle chain is to use a spray lubricant like WD-40. This solution will easily cut through the grime and extend the wear on the chain. To do it, simply spray the solvent on the chain and let it sit for a minute. Then, using an old rag, wipe the chain any extra solvent off of the chain.

Check Your Tires Regularly

You’re riding down the street headed for that local bakery you love so much, when all of a sudden, something doesn’t feel right. You quickly dismount and are devastated to see that one of your tires has gone flat. So much for that chocolate éclair you were so looking forward to.

One the easiest bike maintenance tasks you can do is inspect your tires at least once a week. That’s because it’s too easy for small shards of glass, wires or other sharp objects to lodge themselves into your tires and give you a flat at the most inconvenient time.

Simply run your hands over your tires on a weekly basis and pull out anything that’s lodged into it. You can use tweezers to get at those objects that are too small to pull out with your fingers. Be sure to check both the sidewall and the tread, and look for any bulges that indicate your tire should be replaced.

Check Your Brakes Often

Let’s imagine that local bakery again. You’re pedaling to it, but right before you get there, you have to ride down a steep hill. Only halfway down the hill, you pull on the brakes only to realize that they aren’t working properly. This can obviously put you in danger.

To avoid having to deal with failed brakes, it’s important that you check them regularly to look for wear. Once you see that they’ve worn about 50 percent, it’s time to replace the pads. You should also make sure they’re aligned with the rim and use the barrel adjusters to take up excess slack.

Of course, no matter how much maintenance you do, you should always be prepared to do on the spot bike repairs in case the worst happens. The best way to ensure you won’t get stranded is to carry along an all in one tool that includes bicycle repair tools.


4 Reasons to Do Your Local Shopping on a Bike

3df439f584e700376987bf0d29603fb1Are you a dedicated local shopper? Do you believe that it’s best to keep your hard earned dollars in the local community so you do all you can to make all your purchases from the local shops and sellers in your area? If so, that’s great. The truth is, local shops are the backbone of any community, but if local residents don’t shop in them, they won’t be there for long.

But there’s more to the “buy local” philosophy than just shopping in your local stores. There’s also the issue of the environment.

Why You Should Ride Your Bike When You Shop Local

We all know that we should do all you can to preserve our environment. After all, we need to leave our planet in great shape for all the future generations that will come after us. But if you’re driving your car to multiple local stores, you’re doing good on one hand: shopping local, but on the other hand, you’re leaving a large environmental footprint to get there.

Why not use your bike to shop local instead? Here are three great reasons to do just that.

It’s Cheaper

When you shop local, you’ll save on the expensive shipping costs that online sellers charge, but those savings may be wiped out by gas charges. This is especially true if you shop at multiple locations. Instead of using all that fossil fuel, why not take your bike? You’ll not only save money because you won’t have to buy gas, but you’ll be able to enjoy a ride that allows you to take in all of the sights and scenery. But remember, before you take off, it’s smart to check out FindUsLocal, an online local business directory, to pinpoint the businesses you want to visit and lay out your bike route.

Get Social

When’s the last time you interacted with the locals while driving in your car? It’s just not possible, but when you travel the streets on your bike, you’re more able to talk to the local shop owners and residents, which may lead you to better deals or shops you weren’t even aware of.

Cut Down on Expensive Car Repairs

Let’s face it—every time you take your car to a local store, you put more miles on it and that gets it closer to breaking down. But when you ride your bike, you’ll save on those repairs. And what if your bike breaks down? If you carry an all in one tool with you, you won’t ever have to worry about becoming stranded on one of your outings. Look for a hand tool that comes with bike tools on it that will allow you to repair those critical but easy bicycle parts on the go.

If you’ve been driving your car when you shop local, it might be time to rethink your plan. By changing a few simple things, like planning your route with a local business directory, being open to socializing with the locals, and carrying a bike repair kit, your shopping days will take on a whole new meaning.