Top 5 Local Economy Growth Hacks through Buying Local

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The local economy grows by supporting small businesses more than larger corporations.

Why, you ask?

Well, buying from small local businesses strengthens the local supply chain and retains more of your purchase dollars locally. Not to mention also reducing your carbon footprint. If you haven’t already, you can take a closer look at how this all works in our nifty explainer video here.

So, let’s explore my five favourite ways to support local: contributing that little bit more to local economies wherever you are, at home or abroad! Complete with examples from my home province of Nova Scotia—try them out when you next visit!

1. Shop at Independent Retailers

Shopping at independent retailers is a fantastic way for you to grow the local economy!

Some small retailers will even be able to give you better deals than big box stores. They tend to have more freedom to do so, and don’t have to follow the prices quite as closely as they are their own ‘head-office’.

I shop at a local, independent comic book store, Monster Comic Lounge, that has better prices on their stuff than bigger sellers. Could I technically get stuff from Amazon instead? Yeah. But I much prefer going to Monster Comic Lounge. Not only are they super friendly, but they also support Canadian artists as well. A few months ago, they showed me handmade dice bags for D&D that they sourced from a Canadian maker. How cool is that??

kitten in independent bookshop
A cat lounging at Otis & Clementine’s,

It’s also a more personal experience going to a small business. They have the time to be able to help you with what you need. Do you want advice on what to get your spouse for their birthday? Sure, they have the perfect thing! Want help finding that perfect decoration for your dining table? Right this way!

And, there are plenty of local retailers that make a point of stocking items from local makers too, such as Momma Bears Boutique on beautiful Lake Banook in Dartmouth.

Purchasing from them helps to keep your money local and helps to support the business owner’s family, but also the families of all the local producers they source from! In essence, supercharging your purchases with local economy growing power. Talk about levelling up your buy-local game for maximum impact!

Something else I enjoy is scouting out local bookstores for my reading needs. I have a couple I always return to. One being John W. Doull on Main Street in Dartmouth, and the other being Otis & Clementine’s, in Upper Tantallon. Both are fantastic, independent bookstores, that hold a lot of interesting reads.

Otis & Clementine’s is the perfect spot to sit with a book, along with a cup of coffee, to read while cats roam at your feet, playing. While John W. Doull is the place to go to get an antiquarian or rare book, which is their specialty. It has a lot of character, even from the first few steps into the store. Both are favourites of mine to check out when I have a free afternoon.

Next, we have why it’s important to eat at locally-owned restaurants!

2. Eat at Local Small Business Restaurants

By eating at small business restaurants, you are actively growing the local economy. Locally-owned restaurants, like small local retailers, are more likely to source from local producers. So, by eating at these restaurants, you supporting local food producers, and strengthening the local supply chain.

I absolutely love exploring new places to eat in and around Halifax. There is so much life—especially in the downtown area! You can walk around downtown and never run out of great new places to eat—no matter how many times you’ve been! There are so many different kinds of foods to eat as well. I have a few favourites, of course, but with so many options, I also love trying new ones as often as I can!

Here’s a list of some of my recent faves. Check ’em out!

milkshake in front of a diner menu
A milkshake at True North Diner!

Mary’s African Cuisine for local African-inspired cuisine—fantastic food!

Gangnam Korean BBQ & Cuisine for a delicious meal, cooked right in front of you!

True North Diner for an authentic and yummy 50s diner experience!

Real Fake Meats for a local vegan butcher, and foods!

Maxwell’s Plum for a wonderful pub-dining experience!

Now, let’s have a look at the benefits of engaging local independent service providers.

3. Use Independent Service Providers

Local independent service providers, such as plumbers, electricians, or auto mechanics are often supporting themselves and their families from the services they provide. And they can set their own rates at times, when bigger service providers may not be able to.

Using local service providers puts more money into your community. They don’t have a head office requiring that they only purchase from select providers for parts. So, they can (and do!) shop around and find parts for a better price or even those made in your home country, if possible—reducing shipping time, and your carbon footprint!

And, small service providers often value each and every customer that walks through their door, as each satisfied customer ensures the success and growth of their business. Not so for big chain providers, who can afford to lose the odd customer here and there without it even making a dent in their profits.

So, when you hire a local lawn care company to help with landscaping, or a local mover to help move and transport all your important, heavy items, you’re giving the local economy a big boost and getting customized service that larger corporations find hard to provide. Gotta love that!

Next up, tips on how buying local gifts helps grow local economies.

4. Purchase Gifts from Small Business Shops and Vendors

East Coast Sirens Gift Shop on Digby's scenic Lighthouse Road
East Coast Sirens Gift Shop on Digby’s scenic Lighthouse Road

Purchasing gifts from small business shops and vendors, really helps your economy thrive. How? Well, as we mentioned previously, locally owned businesses are more likely to supply from other independent artists and makers.

Gift shops run by locals are more likely to provide unique items handmade by the owners and/or sourced from other independent artists and makers. A great example of this in Nova Scotia is East Coast Sirens. Mixed-media artist, Lori Prentice-van Luven, has both an online and in-person shop, near Digby, where she sells not only her own beautiful art products and creations, but also the art (and even pet-care products) from other local makers!

Check out our Local Gift Providers for plenty of other Nova Scotia local gift ideas too!

To round things out, let’s check out how leaving positive reviews for small businesses can have a big impact!

5. Leave a Positive Review Online

We all know how leaving a positive review is important to our small businesses. But did you know it can also help grow the local economy? Have you guessed how?

If you landed on positive small business reviews that attract more customers, you’re right!

Like most of us, I tend to look for positive reviews before I decide to go to a new-to-me shop, restaurant, or service provider. So, not surprisingly, positive reviews help small businesses get more customers. And, as we all know by now, the more customers shopping at small businesses, the better off the local economy!

Bonus: the more positive Google reviews a small local business has, the higher up in Google search results it will appear! So, your review will provide much-needed increased online exposure for your favourite small businesses!

So, next time you have a good experience at a small business, please do leave them a positive Google review—it really does help!

Now, over to you!

Remember, buying local is important for growing the local economy that you’re in. Shopping locally provides more jobs, as well as retains more of your purchase dollars in the local economy—as compared to shopping at large chains.

And, as we’ve seen, many local small businesses make it a point to source locally, levelling up your local economic impact!

What’s more, at its heart, buying local supports the livelihoods of business owners, their families and their employees. That’s a whole lot of social good right there. And with the added benefits to the local economy and lower carbon emissions from buying local, you really couldn’t think of a more beneficial way to spend hard-earned dollars now, could you?

So, once again, thanks so much for buying local!

Please do comment with your own favourite small local businesses—either in your home local or those you’ve discovered on your travels. We’d love to hear about them so we can all check them out if we’re lucky enough to be in those communities someday!

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