Personally I am not a massive fan of big chain companies and global brands. Whether out shopping, looking for a restaurant for dinner or finding a place to stay for the night, given the choice I pretty much always pick the smaller independent businesses over the larger global ones every time, and there are a variety of reasons for this: here’s the reasons why you should always support local independent businesses!
So why am I so passionate about supporting local and independent businesses? My main reasons are because independent businesses make your experience feel more unique and personal, you often get a higher level of service, they are better for the local community and for tourism, and also because you feel you are really contributing to someone’s livelihood.
Helping local people
Even before I started travelling I always saw the importance of supporting small businesses and brands. How you’re helping local entrepreneurs to build and achieve their dreams, or even just to put food on the table, and how you can directly see the people who you would be helping financially. Many people don’t realise that buying from a small local company can make such a difference to them financially – much more of a difference than if you choose to buy at a large chain store or not.
Especially when I go travelling around Asia I will always support the small local businesses as so many of them are family run and so you see the direct benefit of how your money is helping the family: perhaps your purchase enables that family to afford to eat for a week. It makes you feel good inside when you know you are contributing to their livelihood and directly helping someone, and you just don’t get that feeling when you spend your money at big chain companies.
Unique products and experiences
There also has always been an appeal for me to support smaller businesses in the fact I’ve always liked unique things. I don’t want to have the exact same things and experiences as everyone else – I like things that are under the radar and are not known about by everybody: it makes it feel exclusive and more special. I’ve always gone against the crowd and like things that are different and personalised to my taste, and you can find this with independent businesses: unique products, clothes, food, or experiences for example. It’s a lot less likely to find something unique in a chain store as you know so many other people will buy it too! Yes once I was on a small beach wearing the same bikini as 2 other girls there! You’re certainly not going to have this problem when you shop from independent stores.
Nowadays however, our world is increasingly becoming dominated by chains. Towns and cities all have the same brand names along the High Street, and so they all start to look like clones of each other. The uniqueness of many town’s High Streets has gone and independent family run businesses have lost to big chain companies, as it takes one thing to create an independent business, but it takes a whole other thing to keep it alive, and sadly independent companies often just cannot compete with the big chains. This is why every piece of support really counts for them!
Better for the local community and for tourism
Shopping at local businesses as opposed to large chains is actually much better for the local community! Local businesses always bring a breath of fresh air to a place. They bring more identity to an area, help shape a place and actually attract more tourists to the area! Take London’s famous Camden Market for example: full of quirky independent stores with such beautiful, unique and amazing value products to buy. People come here because they want to see something different – they don’t want to see something that they can see everywhere else! Camden Market is a very popular place for people to visit, because of it’s uniqueness! Independent businesses have tonnes of character and personality and are very creative, and so they will ALWAYS be more authentic and popular than a generic chain, no matter what.
Excellent customer service
Many people think the prices will be higher with independent businesses, but more often than not this is not the case. Besides, you’ll also get a much higher level of customer service with independent businesses as they hold their reputation in high regard and know their local community are very important to them. Usually also you will find local businesses are more committed to the business and more willing to go the extra mile than someone who is just employed by a large company who would have no incentive to do this.
Ways you can contribute to local businesses:
- instead of frequenting the well-known chain coffee shops found in every town, find an independent coffee shop.
- instead of visiting big chain pharmacies, opticians etc, visit a family owned one.
- pick up your fruits and veg at a local market instead of the giant supermarket chains.
- shop in boutique clothes shops instead of big chain clothes stores where possible (I know it can be hard sometimes!). This doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you are travelling! Clothes shopping in Asia is super cheap and you can get some really beautiful dresses!
- choose to eat in family-run restaurants as opposed to large chain restaurants – often the food is a lot better as they use fresh local produce, unlike many chain companies.
- stay in boutique hotels and family run hotels where possible!
Now I’m not saying I never buy clothes in well known high street shops or I never stay in international hotel chains, of course I do sometimes. Sometimes it is the only feasible option you have, and that’s totally ok, I’m just saying that when you do have a choice, think twice before you automatically go to the big well-known company first. At the end of the day, I would much rather support and contribute to a local business and I hope more and more people will start to realise how important it is, before our independent businesses get lost to big chain companies. To see my post on Why you should totally choose independent boutique hotels as opposed to big chain hotels, click here!