Shopping Local at Home and Abroad

It seems as though most recent trends are making people more impersonal, less empathetic and somewhat more selfish. While it is true that much about the modern world creates a more global, less personal environment, there are trendy concepts that actually make the world a better place, including the increased focus on shopping locally. One modern trend actually combines the best of both worlds, as travelers seek a more experiential, authentic journey and look to experience their destinations from the perspective of the locals.

Shop Local

While this is not exactly a new concept, it is nice that buying locally now seems much cooler than it was in the past. People are more aware of where they spend their dollars, and there is a real shift in consumer mindsets towards becoming more community-conscious. You may already realize that your local businesses, stores, firms and entrepreneurs are usually the biggest contributors to your local causes and charities.

Still, if you are not a small business owner yourself, you may not see how buying local benefits you. While it is definitely great to get the fuzzy feeling of doing the right thing– and we all want to make sure our friends know we are cool enough to buy locally– there are more advantages than you may know.

Travel Local

One of the more oxymoronic phrases in recent memory, the concept of traveling local may seem strange to those who are unfamiliar. Of course, the local in this sense does not necessarily refer to your own specific geographic region, but to the region of those who live in your travel destinations.

Experiential travel is one of the hottest trends in the travel world, and it focuses on experiencing a destination from the viewpoint of those who live there. This puts a premium on authenticity and shuns the concepts of traditional tourism. One of the key elements here involves spending money responsibly, and modern travelers are actively seeking ways to support local businesses like restaurants, independent lodging and local shops.

Aside from the authentic experience, there are many benefits of buying local that have nothing to do with jumping on trends, and your small purchases can have a big impact. Here are some of the many reasons to avoid the big box chains, travel giants and online mega retailers.

1.Invest in the community

This may seem like the obvious reason to shop local, but there are some subtle ways doing so affects a local economy that you may not realize. For instance, every dollar you spend at a local, independent business returns three times more money to the local economy than if it had been spent at a large chain– and almost 50 times more than at the online mega retailers.

Local shops also have a way of creating a sense of community. They create strength and character in neighborhoods that might be stripped away by the presence of megastore. On the same note, local stores can help define a community and give it its own unique flavor and character, which are critical to authentic experiential travel.

2. Good jobs and better customer service

Small businesses provide more well-paying jobs for your friends and neighbors at home and for the locals at your vacation destinations. When people care about where they work, they are much more likely to treat customers with care and take pride in every interaction. It is always much more enjoyable talk to the the friendly barista at the local coffee shop than to yell at the clown at a drive-thru.

3. Support the environment and local causes

Generally speaking, small businesses are small. They take up less land, consume less energy, carry goods that are produced or grown nearby. They are also much more likely to donate substantial amount to local charities and foundations. In fact, non-profit organizations receive almost 250 percent more support from small businesses than they do from large corporations.

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