Local shopping, a two-way bond
A business owner recently spoke to the Journal about the importance of keeping the “Shop Local” message in the forefront of people’s minds.
Some people choose to do the majority of their shopping in the city or on the Internet. That sort of thinking lacks long-term perspective: people complain about lack of choice in St. Paul, but if they don’t support local businesses, why should a business offering some different choices bother to set up shop here?
Shopping locally is part of an informal social contract – customers should shop locally to promote small-town businesses, to keep their town alive, and to give their dollars back to the business owners who in turn continually invest in our community and who provide exceptional support to local projects and causes.
However, that generosity may not be apparent to the average person on the street when deciding where to spend his or her money. Instead, people are focused on getting the best deal for themselves, of having the best choice and the best price. It may be hard to beat a price advertised on an Internet site, but local businesses can – and should – offer something beyond rock-bottom prices, particularly when it comes to personable, friendly customer-service.
People respond to care and attention; if they feel as though they’re going to get five-star treatment no matter how much money they have to spend, it may be the difference between shopping locally or spending their money outside of the community.
If a local business can provide the best service at a reasonable price, there is no reason why a person should take their money and their shopping elsewhere. If both sides keep up their end of the contract, the result will be a place where small business thrives, and the community blooms.