OPINION: Small businesses influence growth in communities

(Illustration by Audrey Hockersmith)

Small businesses are the forefront of sustaining small communities. The relationship between the consumer and the owner, as well as the willingness to give back to the community, should be reasons enough to shop local over big corporations.

When I went shopping at Wal-Mart the other day, I was caught up in congestion and extremely long lines. The combination of these factors made it too much to bare. It also made me cognizant of the benefits of shopping at small businesses.

Small businesses usually provide better service by offering a broader knowledge of the products they are selling and spending more time with their customers, according to Sustainable Connection’s article “Top ten reasons to think local — buy local — be local.”

In my experiences with small businesses, I notice that the owners and employees make sure you know that your business is appreciated. Small business owners don’t take your money for granted, and I believe that the business relationship helps build trust between the business owners and the community.

This trust between the consumer and the owner is then reinforced through the owner’s willing heart to give back to the community, a trait many big corporations do not do, according to Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle in the Forbes article, “Why you need to support small businesses.”

From my experiences, small businesses are usually the biggest sponsors and donors to local nonprofit organizations and intramural sports leagues for kids. Oftentimes, local small businesses know what is important to the community and are more willing to support local causes.

If we didn’t have small businesses across the U.S., a lot of important traditions and developmental activities would not be possible. Thanks to small businesses in my hometown, I was able to enjoy playing baseball since I was 5 years old.

Another reason why you should support small businesses is because it can boost the local economy.

Small businesses can not only create competition but can also increase the number of employment opportunities within the community, according to Megan Dahle’s Generations Community Federal Credit Union article, “8 reasons you should shop small business.”

In my opinion, this is really important to the sustainability of any community.

When you support small businesses, you are directly encouraging competition. The more competition there is, the cheaper goods and services will be for a community. Naturally, as competition increases and businesses start to become successful, they are willing to hire more people. The spike in employment not only helps the resident but also the community because they gain money out of your taxes.

If you only support corporations like Wal-Mart and Target, you likely encourage employment – but you are driving away competition. When competition goes down, so does employment, and eventually the costs of goods and services will go up.

The camaraderie between small businesses and their loyal customers is a clear example as to how two entities within a community can impact each other. In a world where handshakes don’t mean much anymore, it’s nice to know that you can count on someone, especially when you are spending your hard-earned money.