1. Pay with Cash
You know those signs that ask for a minimum purchase if you want to use a card? The request might seem annoying until you learn businesses have to pay a fee to process those transactions. (Ever wondered how your credit card company makes money when they’re offering cashback? It’s from all those micro-transactions they’re charging the businesses you buy from.) In fact, some of the businesses in our very own Live Local directory pay upwards of $30,000 every year on transaction fees alone.
One of the easiest ways to support small local businesses is to pay with cash. You’ll pay the exact same amount, and the shop gets to sidestep those pesky card processing fees. Everybody wins!
2. The 20% Trick
Tipping is an amazing way to support small service-based business owners. A common complaint about tipping is the math, so here’s our favorite tip upcycled from grade school: Move the decimal point over to the left one place and double the amount. If your haircut comes to $45.00, for example, 10% would be $4.50. Multiplied by 2, that’s $9.00. So your total would be 45 + 9 = $54. If that still seems tricky, your smart phone has a calculator to help. (Or if you use an Apple Watch, the calculator app has a tip button!)
3. Call Before You Go
It’s frustrating to do all the work of leaving the house, put on real pants, and get yourself into a physical store only to find they’re out of the one thing you came for. These shops aren’t purposefully trying to let you down or make it hard to find what you’re looking for; sometimes it’s hard to know what and how much people will want, especially with all the online options available to consumers.
We know you’re doing your best to support these local businesses, so make it easier on yourself by calling the store to check their stock before making the trip. Even if they don’t have what you’re looking for when you call, it’s not unusual for them to special order it for you or take down your info for when it’s back in stock. This will save your time and more directly communicate to business owners what you’d like to see from them.
4. Avoid Showrooming
The term “showrooming” might not be familiar to you, but the concept likely is: going to a physical store to browse their selection and price comparing at bigger online shops on your phone while you’re there. We’ve all done it, so we’re not judging! But please know going forward that it’s inconsiderate and potentially hurtful to the business you’re visiting. Not only that, but it’s also damaging to the local economy. It’s hard to not love a deal—but remember it’s hard for small businesses to keep up with national brands. If it helps, think of it this way: the extra you pay by choosing local shops will stay in the community. If you ask us, that’s an investment worth making!
5. Be Kind
Kindness is at the core of the four previous tips. It’s a great rule to live by in general and rings true when you’re looking for ways to keep your money in your neighborhood, too. Get to know your baristas, ask your cashier how their day is going in earnest, walk to the nearest business center and see what’s out there. You might just find your next favorite place to shop by staying curious, listening well, and choosing kindness.
One Last Thing
Online and app-based shopping is just plain easier. Live Local is working on rolling an app that will give you the convenience of shopping from your phone while also keeping your dollars in our local economy and earning rewards. If you’d like to help us create a seamless buying experience before the app’s official launch, visit your app store to download The Local Frequency app and get started!