My late grandfather—Maurice Mazur—was a pharmacist. Like many pharmacists from back in the day, he owned his own store, which doubled as a convenience store. Mazur’s Ideal Pharmacy was a long-time cornerstone of the rough Milwaukee neighborhood where it was located.
Many of his customers knew him most of their lives. He was a familiar face and trusted dispenser of health-related advice and, of course, medications. My grandmother often worked the cash register and was also a familiar face. In fact, people who grew up in that neighborhood have told me they remember the store and my grandparents.
The store had character. I still remember how it smelled. I remember surreptitiously looking at magazines that a little boy shouldn’t look at. I remember the papers strewn about the counter where my grandfather counted pills and used a mortar and pestle to make some of them. The merchandise stocked on the shelves looked different from the sterile-looking shelves at large stores. Maybe it was stocked a little sloppier, or products were squeezed together tighter? Whatever the difference, it was because my grandparents stocked it.
Were my grandfather still alive, there is no way he could run his own store. Firstly, he’d be about 120 years old. But secondly—and this is the salient point—he wouldn’t be able to compete with Walgreens, CVS and other big-box pharmacies.
It’s a shame that so many Mom-and-Pop stores can’t compete against their behemoth rivals. It’s a shame because small businesses are a win-win all around—great for the people who shop at them and the communities they’re a part of. Here are six reasons why you should patronize small businesses in your neighborhood.
Small businesses are more likely to invest money back into their community—particularly toward nonprofits, commerce organizations, education and advocacy programs, and more.
1. Personalized attention
As described above, neighborhood stores offer an intimate, personalized touch. Proprietors are highly knowledgeable about their products because their products are often connected to their life’s work. For example, would you rather buy a bicycle for your child from Walmart, or from the owner of a neighborhood bicycle store who can give you expert advice and, in the process, better service?
2. More character strengthens community bonds
Independent stores tend to be authentic. Their authenticity rubs off on the neighborhood, which helps to shape its unique character. As a result, people feel proud of their community and they tend to care more about quality-of-life issues. The result is a stronger, more cohesive community.
Independent stores tend to be authentic. Their authenticity rubs off on the neighborhood, which helps to shape its unique character.
3. Giving back to the community
According to a 2017 Biannual Community Investment Survey from Ace Hardware, small businesses are more likely to invest money back into their community—particularly toward nonprofits, commerce organizations, education and advocacy programs, and more.
Moreover, tax dollars tend to stay in the community, which also helps improve the community.
4. More product diversity
Big-box stores definitely sell more stuff, but that doesn’t mean they offer more variety. Walk into a chain store and you’ll know what you’ll find. But you might be surprised at what you’ll find at a local business.
5. Bedrock of entrepreneurship
Establishing a small business is the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurship fuel America’s economic innovation and prosperity.
6. Environmental Benefits
People are more likely to walk to their neighborhood stores than drive. According to a report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, this reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality, encourages biking, the use of public transportation, and more.
Here are other reasons why you should shop local. As you can see, if you want to benefit yourself and your community, shop at an area business.