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Shop Local: 5 Advantages Local Business Have Over The Competition

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Small businesses on Main Street and big box chains have been competing for consumers' attention for decades. Historians say that big box stores were born in the early 1960s when Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart entered the retail landscape. It's been more than 60 years since these chains arrived and they certainly have garnered their share of devotees. Big box businesses have size, inventory and often price on their side. However, when consumers look beyond those factors, it's easy to see all of the benefits small businesses offer that behemoths cannot.

1. Passionate owners and operators

Walk into a big box store or other business and you may find a handful of dedicated employees, but not quite at the level of small businesses. Small business owners prioritize the customer experience because they know they need to work hard to retain customers. This translates into knowing the products well, and sharing as much knowledge as possible with customers. Big box businesses vulnerable to heavy staff turnover often do not have a vested interest in the brand.

2. Work the local niche

What makes big box retailers so familiar to shoppers is one can stop in a store in the middle of Nebraska and likely find the same items as a store in Hawaii, with only a few subtle differences between the locations. Big box companies work with the same suppliers and ship the same products all over the world. Customers seeking personalized items and services for their particular regions are better off utilizing local small businesses that can bring in regional vendors more readily.

3. Better shopping experience

Big box stores draw customers during peak times when they're home from school or off from work. That often translates to long lines both at checkout and at customer service or return counters. By contrast, there may be no apparent rhyme or reason to when shoppers visit small businesses, meaning there likely will not be crowds. It's much more pleasant to browse wares without having to contend with shopping cart traffic and people blocking aisles.

4. Advanced technology

Big box companies have invested millions of dollars into their point-of-service systems and other technologies, which means it can be a very slow transition to new options as times change. Small businesses generally can shift to newer, better technology more readily because they do not have to do so on the same scale as their larger competitors.

5. General agility

Changing technology on a dime is not the only ways small businesses excel. They can experiment in other ways, such as a home contractor offering a special price deal for a certain period of time, or a clothing store experimenting with new in-store decor. Big chains cannot pivot that quickly, and any changes must be approved by corporate and implemented across all centers.

And many small businesses use buying groups to compete with the big box retailers on prices. So you may be surprised at how competitive the prices are at a local business.

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