Is it really that important to shop local?

I preach a lot about shopping local, obviously it's important to me as a small business owner, but it was important to me even before Pebbly Path.  Need some encouragement to do it more?  Here are my top 5 reasons to shop local.

1.  It supports your local community.  Seems pretty basic and obvious, but think about how far your money can go when you shop local.  You purchase the product or service, the seller/maker earns a profit which allows them to live in your community - they pay rent/mortgage, taxes, and they go off to spend their money, on other local businesses, keeping the world going round.  If we are buying from big offshore companies - our money pays for other countries to improve their communities.  Plus, local business owners are much more likely to shop local themselves, which means you're inadvertantly supporting all those families too!  For instance, I have sourced my honey, hazelnuts and almonds from local farming families, I have an Aussie mum graphic designer, and my cartons are printed right here in Australia too.  You're supporting all those businesses by supporting me!

2.  You get a personal touch that cannot be matched by big chains.  This is a big one for me - I love a bit of special sauce.  I love going to the coffee shop and the barista (Pete) says "Hi Tash! The usual?".  That's life goals for me, simplistic but lovely.  (Pete also makes delicious cocktails if you're ever in Mudgee).  Going in to [insert big chain store here], you don't get personalised service because the employees don't care who you are or what you need.  Local business owners get to know you, and they really try to meet your needs - they do special orders for you, design customised products, and they can collaborate with other local businesses to achieve the goals you have.  How nice is it when you receive a parcel hand delivered to your door with a thank you note from the owner, with an order designed especially for you.

3.  Great customer service.  Following on from the personal touches, I can guarantee you that I make a 110% effort to ensure your experience with my business is first class.  If something is wrong with your order - you email me directly, and I email you back directly. You speak to me, none of those annoying "auto-chat-bots".  If you need something changed, or you need something quickly, or you need something specially designed - I'm here to make it happen for you!  My business is all about making you guys, the customers, happy - not the board members back pockets.  My business thrives by having happy customers, so that is my bottom line.

4.  Individuality. Big companies often have generic versions of the same things - the same boring ingredients, the same boring patterns, the same generic materials. No inspiration from what the locals like or need in their lives.  Shopping small gives rise to creatives who are trying to make life a little more exciting and gives rise to diversity of options.  If we all shopped at the same stores, with the same options available, we would be living in a really, really dull world.  My mission at Pebbly Path is to create something different, something exciting, and inject a little fun into your world and your tummy.

5.  It's more eco-friendly. This is a biggie for me - I worry a lot about our environment and I think it's so important for businesses to step up and do the right thing, not because it's governed, or it's cheaper, but because it's the right thing to do.  By shopping local, you reduce your eco footprint by reducing transportation of goods across the globe. For example - I source local aussie produce for my ingredients wherever possible .  My honey, nuts, and some of my dried fruit all come from local Aussie farmers, and I buy in bulk, so they use one big bag and one shipping carton and it ships to me every 3 months thereabouts.  This saves plastic packaging and fuel for shipping.  Alternatively I could use nuts imported from overseas, get it shipped internationally, then have it come cross-country to my house, or I could buy it from a chain store in 100 little plastic bags *gasp* the horror.  Additionally, I always use the most appropriate eco-friendly shipping options like cardboard, or biodegradable shipping bags, which the big companies don't often use due to their increased cost and that means their board members don't make as many millions of dollars.

So are you a little more convinced?  Living in a small country town I know too well that it's not always possible to shop local, and sometimes it's just not available in Australia (unfortunately we don't grow cacao in Australia).  But that which we do produce in Australia is some of the highest quality in the world - we have GREAT taste.  So if we can all TRY to shop local where it's reasonably possible, we are ALL going to reap the rewards.

So I encourage you to shop local, shop small, support your local families and your local farmers, growers and makers, and when you do, give them a shout-out on socials, tell your friends how GOOD the product was, because word of mouth is the highest level of marketing we've got and we actually have no control over it!