We’ve all been told at some point that shopping locally with small, family run businesses is better than shopping at large chains and multinational giants. But why is this? What benefits does choosing to shop at family run businesses really bring to the table? Let’s jump in with five reasons you should choose to support a family owned business and why shopping locally is really a family thing.
1. Keeps your community alive
Overall, family businesses are more likely to give charitably to their communities and engage in extensive activities like fundraising drives, outreach programmes and donations.
With their long term outlook, family businesses are prone to forming strong relationships with their communities and community organisations. Research from York University shows that these partnerships benefit the communities and businesses equally, through enhanced trust and good reputations, as well as opportunities for personal and professional development for all involved.
Studies have shown that family businesses have a more long-term strategic outlook than large corporations, due to their main motivation being to create a legacy for generations to come. Building this legacy will often build the community with it, as one successful business leads to others, and one or two thriving shops can be just the boost a local high street needs. More revenue in an area will likely lead to more investment, improving infrastructure and giving a boost to local culture with events and promotions.
It’s also worth remembering that in the UK family businesses employ 14.2 million people, making up two-fifths of the UK’s total employment. This can make a huge difference to a community, particularly in recent years where the job market has not been at its healthiest. On a larger scale, in 2018 family firms contributed 31% of the country’s GDP
2. Gives cash to real people rather than massive corporations
We talk about this a lot here at Shopappy, but shopping at small businesses - more often than not family owned and run - contributes to a cyclical economy that plays a huge part in benefitting the local area. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as really seeing the impact your spending choices have - choose to give your money to the local baker, and they’ll spend it with the gift shop, who’ll spend it at the farmer’s market, who’ll buy a gift from the independent jeweller. Supporting just one local family business can often support several other businesses, as well as providing a living for the family. You never know, that money might even end up back in your own pocket! As Helen Crouch (pictured) owner of Coalville business The Design Hub that restores vintage furniture explains “When you support a small business it supports a family, it might support ten families. When you support a big boy it goes in that one pocket at the top.”
3. Increases local employment
Large chains can afford to automate a vast majority of labour, things that would have historically been handled by human hands become robotic or algorithmic. Family businesses don’t do this - preferring the personal touch which helps to create more jobs in the community and more opportunities for social interaction too. Larger corporations tend to outsource labour, moving their factories, farms and administrative functions to other countries, even other continents, in search of the cheapest deal - for family businesses, they are more likely to use local suppliers and employ people in your community, which helps your whole area to prosper..
At the last count, family owned businesses in the UK employ over 14 million people, and hopefully this number will only continue to grow as we all continue to shop local.
4. Helps the environment
National imports are hugely damaging, to both the environment and the economy. The endless cargo freighters alone should be reason enough to want to reduce import reliance, with over 486 Million tonnes of registered trade goods coming overseas in 2020 alone.
Family firms prefer to keep things closer to home, generally sourcing materials and produce as close as possible, meaning that there’s no need for excessive amounts of freight ships, planes and lorries crisscrossing the globe - not to mention the enormous amount of packaging needed to safely transport products. Small and family owned businesses also tend to opt for more sustainable packing for their products in general, fuelled by their connection to the local community and customer base, as well as the ability to add a little more personal touch to what’s on their shelves. And of course when you buy from them through ShopAppy, or in person, there are no trucks traversing the globe to get the products to you either.
5. Increases human contact, reducing loneliness and isolation
Particularly during the last few years of the pandemic, we’ve really seen small businesses step up and go the extra mile for their communities - from adjusting opening hours, to offering delivery services and sourcing more products for people suddenly unable to travel further afield. Where for years communities have been loyal to their local businesses, those businesses are now being loyal to them.
During this time of isolation, family businesses are the ones who’ve had the time and the inclination, much more so than large chains, to stop and have a chat with their customers. For some, this might be the only face to face social interaction they have in a week. As Helen Crouch of the Design Hub adds “It’ll be the smaller companies that will have that chat for ten minutes with that old person that’s probably not seen anybody all week, more so than the bigger companies, because they are big. It’s that personal service isn’t it?”
Local family run businesses are able and willing to take the time out of their day, make the effort. They often know their customers by name and can check on them and go just that little bit further to support them. During Covid lockdowns, corner shops became a corner stone in our communities, but for some areas, which had sadly lost those corner shops and local food shops, there was no choice but to shop in larger superstores. As Sarah Wilson of Doncaster’s own Gentleman Fishmonger puts it “By destroying the corner shops, when we had COVID, there were a lot of villages that didn’t have access to food.”
A final word about family businesses then it is over to you...
There are so many reasons to support family businesses. With all of this in mind, keep supporting your local businesses as remember in most cases you won't be just making one person happy but a whole family.