There seems to be this thought that shopping local means not shopping at national chains. At least that is how I interpreted this. That if I have to go one way, I can’t possibly support the opposite. We have a large gym owned by a health system nearby. My family belongs to it. Our studio had clients who belonged to our intimate business and also the large gym. I loved this. It meant that people were choosing to get healthy in our space but fulfilling needs elsewhere that we couldn’t meet.
Our studio was wonderful in concept. While there are many reasons as to why we closed, one of the struggles was getting new people in there every day. To thrive we needed bodies. We had incredible loyal patrons who stuck with us until our last day, but businesses succeed when they grow. I simply didn’t have the time or capacity to focus on retention AND growth. And that can make or break any business regardless of the industry.
I’m totally guilty of being in Barnes and Noble, picking up a book I’m interested in, checking the price then seeing if I can get it cheaper through Amazon. Then in the same breath praying that nothing happen to B&N. I grew up in Borders Book Store. Taking my children to the bookstore was a saving grace when I battled postpartum depression. We saw what happened to Borders.
Everywhere I turn I see going out of business signs. Gyms, Furniture stores, sporting good stores. Sure, we could call it the Amazon effect or just online shopping in general, but again, when I can find the same product online, I will wait the two shipping days in order to save a buck. But, we can’t complain when we are a part of the problem. There is room for both! I went to my local Banana Republic and when I casually mentioned perhaps I’ll just order a dress online, the sales associate said it helps them when we buy in store which is why they price match. Music to my ears! If all stores did this, they’d definitely have more skin in the game! I love the convenience of ordering in my pj’s but if I can get the same product at the same price from the store, it’s truly worth it to put on the clothes and head to the mall because every BODY helps.
When my business closed, we had to sell a lot of equipment. I don’t think that people realized the importance of every single purchase. When a business closes, we look at the value of everything physically in there. The idea of throwing things away or carving out time to donate them, when they still had so much life was overwhelming. So when someone bought a set of weights or a band for $1, that was one less item to stress about. That was money for the final rent payment. Just like every body mattered, so did every dollar.
We tend to minimize our significance as individuals. We aren’t really paying attention to the fact that there are so many others like us and when we come together for a common goal, it really does make a difference. We may not be aware of it, in the moment, but someone else sees and values this effort.
Local businesses bring personality to our city. There’s something pretty special when you see a group of people who met in your place of business hang out outside of those walls. And of course, our chains are just as important! Those people that work there are our neighbors. They are a part of a company that helps take care of them and their families. We don’t have to sacrifice financial benefits for human interaction. With a little bit of effort, we can have both. We can get excited about that Prime truck and be grateful for online stores that make our daily life a little easier. They help us allocate time to other important areas of our life that need it. We can also remember that there is value in visiting a business in person when we spend so much time already NOT connecting with people. If we are so consumed with trying to save time, where are we honestly spending it?
We certainly can’t get time back, but when we spend it supporting a business nearby, we are helping to keep the local economy alive. That $1 is worth a lot. It’s 100 pennies that came together. There are so many ways to support our business community. Write a positive google review about a place you visited. Pick out your items online then visit the store to try on the items if it makes sense. Attend a special event your local gym is having even if you don’t belong there. Remember every BODY counts! And the next time you see those neon signs of a place closing, check it out. Perhaps purchase something you might not even use but know someone who will. It all matters. Every dollar counts especially when we all make these little moves that add up to something really big for someone else.