Shopping local means

Shopping local means becoming repeat patrons at the independent businesses that comprise Main Street as opposed to the chain stores that dominate strip malls.

Small businesses continue to be the backbone of the North American business community. According to the career resource Zippia, there are 33.2 million small businesses in the United States. Those organizations employ around 62 million people. The financial wellness company Fortunly says that small businesses account for nearly half of all private sector jobs in Canada. In fact, small employer businesses made up 98.1 percent of all businesses in Canada in 2021.

Despite the prevalence of small businesses and the abundance of people willing to become entrepreneurs, 20 percent of these firms fail within the first year, and only 55 percent survive five years or more, says Zippia. The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly harsh on small businesses. However, many of them survived through digitization that they plan to continue to utilize even when the pandemic is long gone.

Maintaining a small business through economic highs and lows and other issues often comes down to customer involvement. Consumers are the driving forces behind the success of small businesses. Here are some effective ways for consumers to help small businesses grow.

• Shop local. The “Shop Local” movement has been around for awhile but remains as relevant as ever. Shopping local means becoming repeat patrons at the independent businesses that comprise Main Street as opposed to the chain stores that dominate strip malls.

• Share on social. Social media can be a great way to spread the word about businesses you like and point out particular examples why you shop there. Utilizing social media platforms to highlight the positive attributes of a business can help that business grow.

• Call direct for take-out orders. Those ubiquitous third-party food delivery services may be convenient, but businesses have to share the profit from your purchase with the delivery service, cutting into their bottom lines. Pick up your order or rely on the restaurants’ own delivery teams.

• Engage with the business online. Complicated algorithms and other factors determine how a business’ website or social media page gets seen by the public. You can help things along by liking pages, visiting the website frequently and sharing any posts.

• Speak about a business in person. When out and about, whether you’re dining with friends or chatting with a stranger, try to push and recommend businesses you support. If someone compliments your lawn, shoes or haircut, mention the businesses that did the work or sold you the products.

• Suggest opportunities for exposure. If you know about a school or organization looking for vendors, make the suggestion to a small business you use frequently. They may get new customers from participating in the event.

Small businesses are driving forces in the economy. Consumers can do their part to keep them thriving and profitable.

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