We live in the age of online shopping. Most everything we might need is available with a few keystrokes. The lure of Amazon Prime, with a multitude of merchandise options and free delivery beckons. No traffic, no parking hassles, no crowds. Why, then, would we choose to shop locally? Why pick up the phone and call, or even better, why visit a retailer in person? There are several great reasons:

Support the Local Economy

Keeping your shopping dollars in your community is one of the best reasons to shop locally. The taxes you pay go back to your city, allowing local government to invest back into our neighborhoods. We should note that there is a difference between shopping local and shopping locally.  You might pat yourself on the back for skipping the e-tailer, yet you complete your shopping list at a major chain, or big-box, store. While these stores do employ local citizens and collect local sales tax, much of the revenue goes outside the community.

According to Forbes magazine,

For every dollar spent at a locally-owned establishment, nearly 45% of that revenue stayed in the local community, with another 9% going elsewhere within the state. In contrast, for every dollar spent at a chain store, only 14% of the revenue stayed in the local community, mostly in the form of payroll. The balance of that money flows to out-of-state suppliers, or back to the parent corporation.Forbes.com

By the numbers, three times as much money stays in your community when you shop at locally-owned businesses vs chain stores. When you shop locally, in essence, you are taking care of your own.

Build Relationships Locally

Those of us who remember watching Cheers on NBC a few years back, fondly recall the theme song about wanting to go “where everybody knows your name… and they’re always glad you came.” We feel good when we walk into a business and they recognize us, or remember what we like or don’t like. You can’t replace the human component.

When I walk into a favorite local restaurant for my takeout lunch, they see me coming and start making my salad. They know I want my dressing mixed in, and to leave off the ham. That they know my preferences makes me feel valued, and makes me want to return. At Lilium, we keep notes on customers’ preferences. It might be one customer who loves peonies, while another is allergic to lilies, and another whose favorite color is purple. Customers have confidence when they call that we know what they like, and will meet their expectations. If there is any issue, they know where to find us, by phone, email or in person, to resolve it.

Local is the new black

High Quality Products and Services

Despite the convenience of ordering online, or through a 1-800 number, you really have no idea of the process your merchandise will go through on its way to your doorstep. In the case of fresh flowers, the moment the stems are cut, the flowers begin to decline. The faster a cut stem is placed in water and into a cool environment, the longer it will last. Flowers ordered online and shipped often arrive in poor condition, having traveled in non-refrigerated vehicles, been jostled in a delivery truck, or left on the porch. Yes, you might save a few dollars, but the product you receive (if you receive it at all) is disappointing.

Shopping for flowers, or other perishables, in your community insures the product will arrive quickly, and will be fresh. In addition, you are more likely to get a one-of-a-kind product that will please both the sender and the recipient.

Where we shop, where we eat and have fun–all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place.Sustainable Connections

When you do business locally, you will generally work with people who are trained and have an understanding of the products they are selling. They will take time to get to know the customer, and make sure the customers’ needs are met. Local businesses often depend on word of mouth to grow their customer base, and will protect their reputation in the community by selling a quality product and giving good customer service.

Make a Difference, One Purchase at a Time

We may often feel helpless about making a difference in the world. There are so many global issues that are beyond our control. Where do we begin? Start from the ground up. Consider what you can do to strengthen your own community. Local retailers are invested in their communities. They are more likely to support local causes, such as schools and non-profits. Where you spend your money says a lot about what you value. Make sure you add value to your community by buying at locally-owned businesses.