Shop Local/Shop Small, a nationwide movement, celebrates local small businesses every day, and its goal is to help communities thrive and stay vibrant.

Hearing someone say “Shop Local” gives most small businesses a warm feeling in their soul. It is a mantra that encourages shoppers to invest their excess spending income into their local economy by directly supporting local, small businesses. You hear it at least once a year during a national campaign, and it usually gets repeated during Chamber events. But is a mantra alone enough to save small businesses, especially during a pandemic?

Why is shopping local so important?

Purchasing from locally owned businesses instead of big box stores keeps more money in the community. Shopping local helps grow other small businesses and the local tax base. Small business owners donate more to local charities than non-local owners. Your values and wishes are much more influential to your local community business than the large big box stores.

Even if you don’t realize it, every time you buy a cup of coffee from your local cafe or buy a gift from a local store, you are shopping small and, ultimately, making a difference in your local economy.

You can not promote the economic development of Pearl River county and purchase your website in Hancock county.

As a web developer, I see countless opportunities where a local business, political candidate, or governmental agency chooses to spend their money with developers out of the county/state instead of using local sources. I can’t, in good conscience, discredit the appeal of online web builders like Wix, Weebly, or GoDaddy’s website builder. Those resources are inexpensive on the front-end and relatively easy to use however that revenue is spent outside of our local economy.

The hypocrisy of a local baker who provides beautiful baked goods for their local community (who they depend on to support their business) spending their money on a website from outside of their city, state, or county is deep.

In some cases, I’m just as guilty as a business owner. I have ordered ink, toner, and file folders from Amazon, and the magnetic draw of free 2-day shipping was more than compelling in those cases. I tell myself in those cases that the online purchases were necessary because our local small business community doesn’t have a source for those products. I’d be lying if I said I performed my full due diligence in researching alternate options in our local community.

We all, as a business community, need to take a fresh look at our spending and make more purchases in line with our celebration of the Shop Local/Shop Small movement. After all, you can’t expect the community to shop small and support your business if you don’t support the other local businesses in your community.