Small Business Saturday is November 30 in the U.S., and it has me thinking about how important it is to support small businesses no matter where you are in the world. Being a small business owner myself, I understand that the small business is the backbone of any economy. Supporting mom and pop shops may sometimes be slightly more expensive, but in the long run saves you money and keeps the economy afloat.
Here are some tips for buying local while traveling.
- Buy groceries – Grocery stores, general stores, and farm stands abound in North America, Europe, and much of Asia, so it’s very easy to get fresh food on the road. Bring a cooler and load up fresh fruits, vegetables, and local delicacies.
- Use the Internet – The Internet is a huge resource when planning a trip, and finding exactly what you need is easy. From amazing local restaurants to small swanky clothing shops, you’ll be able to find what you need, and probably something you didn’t expect.
- Shop the farmers markets – I used to think farmers markets were silly and inconvenient. Then I actually started shopping them. Most farmers markets are held on the weekends, but some show up on weekdays; many are held year round. Generally, farmers markets are heavily advertised and offer the freshest produce, meats, and cheeses you’ll ever eat. They are great for weekend camping trips where you can grab a fresh, grass-fed piece of beef, some fresh sweet corn, and organic beets for a complete dinner. Farm fresh eggs, milk, and cheese abound, and many markets showcase local artisans who sell other goods like soaps, pretzels, or hand carved utensils. You never know what you’ll find!
- Go downtown – There is a definite emphasis on reviving downtown areas since the big box store boom, and it makes sense since downtown areas used to be the heart of any town. Small shops are finally making headway against the giants, and you’ll almost always find more interesting and higher quality items in downtown shops. And seriously, there’s a certain charm and excitement to downtown markets. Wherever you are, ask the locals.
- Ask locals – Speaking of which, strike up conversations with the locals. Aside from providing really interesting information and insight into the area, they almost always know the best places to find the good stuff in town. Want to find the best place to get a haircut? Ask a local. Need to get your car fixed in an emergency? Ask a local. Locals are the heartbeat of your journey.
- Shop regional chains – Not all shopping local means small mom-and-pop shops. Mid-sized regional chains offer the best of both worlds: consistency of a large chain with the local flavor and knowledge of a small shop. You can rest easy in the knowledge that the money you spend will likely stay at least in the region where you shop, plus you get better service than the big box stores.
It’s really easier than you think to shop local, and it’s always better for the economy, the environment, and your wallet. Shop smart when you travel, and you’ll end up a better, more learned traveler.
Do you have tips for shopping local in your neck of the woods? It’s different in every part of the world, so share your tips in the comments.