New World Coffee - RaleighFive Reasons for Buying Local

By Martin Brossman – Success Coach and Author of Social Media & On-line Resource Directory for Business

You can’t help noticing the current buzz about buying local, re-inspired by deep concern for the environment and the necessities of the economic slowdown.   Restaurants are proudly announcing more locally-grown foods on their menu, and many of our friends announce their decision to shop smaller specialty retailers instead of chain discount stores.

Aside from the warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping your neighbor, there are some strong tangible benefits to buying from local merchants.  Buying local is beneficial to the environment in a number of different ways, while at the same time boosting the local economy. There are also political implications to your buying choices. Here are a few of the ways your family wins when you buy local.

1. Reduced shipping distance equals lower environmental impact

When you buy goods in your home town, you reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption by virtue of the simple fact that no one has to ship the goods to you from a long distance. When you purchase industrially-grown produce, for example, it typically travels 1,500 miles1 or more before reaching your dinner table. The environmental impact is staggering. A 2009 study2 revealed that in the state of Iowa alone, fuel consumption could be reduced by up to 346,000 gallons per year if 10% more of the state’s food were grown locally. The same study stated that annual carbon dioxide emissions would likely decrease by up to 7.9 million pounds.

2.Local dollars stay in your community

When your dollars go to local merchants, they are much more likely to buy from other local merchants than large corporate-owned stores. Most larger merchants are contractually obligated to buy from suppliers outside the towns where they operate. They often buy in bulk from central locations. The increased number of steps in the supply chain not only adds no intrinsic value, but often results in lower product quality. The reinvestment of business revenues into other local businesses generates local tax revenues.

3. The economic boom and bust cycle stabilizes over the long term

A locally-based economic infrastructure is less likely to suffer radical oscillations, due to the fact that it doesn’t depend on a small number of large businesses for the majority of its revenue. For example, suppose a factory moves into town and employs a large number of the town’s residents. The newly created jobs will attract more people and create a swell in house prices. Then, if economic conditions force the factory to close down or move offshore, there will be no cushion to absorb the economic impact of these lost jobs. The real estate market will decline, leaving affected families underwater on their mortgages.

When a local economy derives its income from a large number of small businesses, economic recessions are less extreme. Since small businesses move into town one by one, and economic growth occurs at a slow, natural pace, the likelihood of a sudden “gold rush” drops off, and prices are less likely to artificially spike.

4. Communities have a greater say in their own future

Economic dependency on a few large businesses shifts political leverage away from the local community. Companies who dominate local economies tend to get their way, whether citizens of their host communities like it or not.  Your everyday decision to buy from small grassroots entrepreneurs or big-box stores has an impact on the power structure governing your home town.

5. Local  pride increases as revenues improve the local environment

A Google search can show you exciting evidence of nationwide support for local independents.  Innovative Chambers of Commerce and merchants’ associations are implementing downtown revitalization projects, local currencies, networking events, joint advertising and community education efforts to bring small towns back to life.

“Shop Local” campaigns are so successful that Corporate marketers are climbing onto the local message bandwagon.  They may use terms like  “shop nearby” or “your local _____.”   It’s a trend that’s widespread enough to have gained the name “local washing.”

So how can you tell who is REALLY LOCAL in your home town? They are locally-owned AND independent,–and committed to making their community a better place to live. There are also many franchises with local owners that are important to support as well, keeping money in the community.

Just pause and think before you shop–can I get this from a locally-owned business? Help others become aware of the value of buying locally.  If you see the value, share it with a friend. I just invited a friend to lunch and said, “Let’s go to New World Coffee House for lunch; it’s good food and local-owned.”  Share your stories of buying  local!


  1. URL: http://www.localharvest.org/buylocal.jsp
  2. “What Exactly Is Local Food?” Sustainable Table, January 2009. URL: http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/eatlocal/
  3. Schuman, Micheal. “Why Buy Local?” Helios Resource Network. URL: http://www.heliosnetwork.org/Why_Buy_Local.pdf

Contact Martin Brossman: martin@coachingsupport.com or (919)847-4757. His business coaching and training website is www.ProNetworkingOnline.com . Thanks to Dave Baldwin for his help with this article. To learn more about classes offered for Small Business Centers and Chambers of Commerce see: www.SBCSpeakers.com and select Courses

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Facebook for BusinessGreat Resources for Small Businesses in North Carolina:  Small Business Centers

Are you considering starting a business?

Are you a small business owner that would like more business?

Do you have a business running but find it hard to find and afford resources to really build your business?

If you answered yes to either question, take a moment and imagine the existence of a remarkable resource center, right in your local area, one that offers you free or very affordable high-quality support. You can go there for help with creating your business; building your business or selling your business. No business it too small or too large to gain access to the resources offered.  Instead of having to locate and pay for high-quality training for yourself and employees, this center makes it easy to attend ongoing training tailored to your business needs. And, to your delight, the center is staffed with highly- trained consultants who are well-networked with community resources all over the state.

If you haven’t already discovered it, this “imaginary” resource center exists in North Carolina, and there are 58 of them from mountains to coast.  They are called Small Business Centers (SBC), part of the Community College System and supported by your tax dollars—truly an investment in the economic development of businesses in the state.  They are “right in our backyard” and all you have to do is show up and take advantage of them!

I have been training in Small Business Centers since 2006 and have been moved and inspired by the wonderful people who have attended my classes. One man who invented a unique machine for bailing pine straw was using his website to successfully sell the several thousand dollar device across the country.  Another man, who had lost his job, was building a business helping children’s book authors speak in high schools, as well as making their books available to schools online. A director of a center doing wonderful work with children with disabilities found a way to sell donated items on eBay that allows the non-profit center to expand its services .And in one rural area I had the privilege of teaching conflict management skills to a room full of managers who oversee large farms; discussing real world problems and finding real world solutions. It’s wonderful to see the greatness of our communities at work.

Through teaching at various Community College locations, I have gotten to know the talented SBC Directors who bring an abundance of personal experience and networked resources to everything they do.  They not only have connections in your community to help you, but also have access to all 58 SBC networks. They have connections with the local Chamber of Commerce and many other contacts they draw on to help you with your business success.

At every SBC I have been to, they have a rich resource center with books, CD’s, government resource publications and often computers loaded with software that you can use for your business. These centers are free for your use and provide tools for planning, research, cash flow projections and budget analysis.

One director told me how he has had the opportunity of helping an individual create a machinist business, aid in staff development as the employees grew, and is now assisting them with landing a major aerospace contract. Another director mentioned how someone came to her to start a greenhouse. She did not have a local resource to help so she used her statewide resources and found a greenhouse business in another area that was successful and able to help this new business. A local bed-and- breakfast got networked through the Small Business Center to work with other bed-and-breakfasts in other areas of the state to help each other.

I want to list a few of the great resources just waiting for you to take advantage of them:

  • Confidential one-on-one and group business counseling. Including advisory councils to help businesses learn from other businesses.
  • Free or low-cost seminars to help start new businesses to get going in the right direction.
  • Resources to help existing businesses with personal issues, hiring, motivation, product development, pricing, competitive analysis, market – product and customer retention.
  • A massive network of contacts and information to address just about any questions a business has, as well as helping the business know the right questions to ask.
  • Assistance from SBC Directors in finding financing resources for your business with their contacts in the community and around the state.

If you want to keep a competitive advantage, you can’t afford not to use the Small Business Center in your area.  If you gain value from these resources, be sure to tell a friend.  The win-win goal we can all help achieve is to increase the community usage of the SBC classes and resources.  It is vital for the Centers to operate at full capability to help keep the funding strong and our communities vibrant. Find out what your SBC has to offer, get involved and let them know how they can help you.  If you have not been to a Small Business Center in NC, or not been in a while, you can find the one in your area at:  www.sbcn.nc.gov

Do you have a story of being helped by a Small Business Center?  Let us know for a future article.

Looking forward to hearing your stories of success!
Martin Brossman
Senior Instructor at NCSmallBusinessTraining.com 

(919) 847-4757
See all my training and coaching at: ProNetworkingOnLine.com and CoachingSupport.com
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