There have been numerous amount of ‘buy local’ campaigns over the past couple years. Many of these campaigns have been economic driven as people have seen a lot of long standing local businesses disappear due to the economy.
Project 3/50 has used social media well to spread their philosophy of shopping local. Last year over Thanksgiving Weekend American Express had a great social media campaign “Small business Saturday.” With the success of Small Business Saturday, I expect to see Amex to roll the campaign out again along with a lot more social media splinter campaigns jumping on the concept. It seems that most markets have their fair share of FB pages dedicated to promote ‘Buy Local’
As successful as these campaigns have been and with as many people talking and pushing ‘Buy Local’, I still see plenty of long lines outside the Olive Garden and Outback while the local restaurants do not seem to be dealing with that problem/opportunity.
Certainly, the biggest benefit of buying local is that more money stays in the local economy of every dollar spent than money spent at a big box. Still today, the toughest parking lot to get into seems to be Costco, and a lot of people that are fighting for that spot are people who think ‘local’ and are local business owners themselves. Best Buy still has much more foot traffic than most local retailers that offer the same products, and let’s not even bring up Wal-Mart.
Is it, deal trumps local? Is it the fact that you know exactly what you are going to get when you walk through the door of a Big Box? Is it that they just do a better job of marketing themselves. When businesses do things right, they can beat the big boxes, in every market there is an underdog, a business that goes head to head with a big box and wins.
Is ‘buy local’ is not always as black and white as it seems? I have some friends that are franchise owners, they own their business’ they just do not have their name on it. Some employee dozens some hundreds. They pay their local taxes, support their community, and send their children through the local school system, they’re community leaders, and volunteers. Yes, some franchise fees leave the area, but how much less local are they really.
For me what is black and white, if I am buying furniture and I have the option of buying from a ‘chain store’ or a local store that has been in the community for over 70 years. Buying unprepared food; I shop for most of my food at local specialty shops that support local ranchers and local produce growers. I belong to a weekly CSA that provides locally grown organic produce.
There certainly needs to be a lot more education on ‘Buy Local’, more than just ‘Buy Local.’ As a local business owner you have a story to tell, tell it! More than likely you are not going to be as convenient as a big box, so you have to be better, and better for most is more than just being local. The parking lots tell that story. It is tough, as most big boxes are run well, and for the most part big boxes began as a local business with a great concept.
So what is the best answer… Or is there one?