This first appeared in our weekly email newsletter, A Positive View of Rural.
Even though I love local business, I’m about ready to ban “shop local.”
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I mean, I’m something of a shop local champion. So why am I ready to get rid of “shop local”?
Because I’m afraid it has lost all its meaning. People have been beat over the head with “shop local” so much, that their heads hurt. They got the “shop local” part, but none of the bigger story made it through.
Here are two of my friends who recently shared very publicly why they didn’t shop local, and how local businesses brought it on themselves.
My friend James was trying to buy a coffee in a small town in the evening. The local coffee shop was closed. In fact, all the downtown businesses were closed. He ended up at McDonald’s. He wrote about it on Small Biz Survival: The Number One Complaint About Small Town Businesses.
Another friend, Chris stepped in to his local coffee shop, where he waited, without service and without attention for too long. And he left, probably for good, and went down the street to (you guessed it) McDonald’s.
““LOCAL” DOES NOT EQUAL “GOOD.”” Chris wrote about it later. “Local equals local….If you intend to be a local business, what will push people to choose you instead of the competition?”
Now that’s a good question! Chris went on to list a whole bunch of ways to give much better service than the chain or the big guys.
“If you can add value, you can trump price or availability as a local business,” he said.
See, Chris wants to care about local, but he doesn’t want to reward bad service.
And this is why I’m thinking of giving up on “shop local.” In its place, let’s start with improving our own businesses, and get much, much better about giving service and adding value. Then let’s work with our neighboring businesses to improve, too. Then when we have a good group of outstanding local businesses, let’s take that story to our customers. I’m betting they will listen to that much better than any generic “shop local” message.
If you want more of my help with your Shop Local project, take a look at the newly-updated Shop Local Campaigns for Small Town ebook.
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- Why big box stores are getting smaller and what that means to small towns - October 13, 2014
- A great shop local tagline - October 8, 2014
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- How service businesses can get ready for the holidays - September 22, 2014
- 5 Retail Holiday Tips for 2014 - September 15, 2014
- 9 ways to drive engagement and draw a bigger audience on Twitter - September 3, 2014
- Brag Basket goes to the beach - August 29, 2014
- How I found my mission in three kinda-easy steps - August 26, 2014
- Recruiting new residents: help them find out they’ll love your town - August 19, 2014