I live in Sheridan, Indiana, a community of just 2,667 according to the last census. We have a lot of small businesses here, and I try to use them as much as possible. It's true that sometimes it's more expensive to shop in Sheridan, but if I want the convenience of driving four blocks to the grocery store for milk or eggs on a Saturday morning, then I need to support the local grocery that sells those items. Sure, I could get both the milk and the eggs for less, sometimes substantially less, if I go to the other grocery chains just a few miles away, but then eventually our little grocery would probably disappear.
I was in a meeting the other day with a small business person, and was stunned when he mentioned that he was using a well-known online company for the printing of business cards and letterhead. This person runs a local small business, but doesn't buy locally himself. When I asked "why" his answer was, "Too expensive". I think he's making a mistake.
It's obvious to me that if you want your local community to shop (or eat) at your establishment, then you need to return the favor. Now I'm not saying to ignore the cost of locally sold products; cost is always a factor. What I am saying is that it is vital to the success of any small business to support the community not only through philanthropy, but also through good old-fashioned commerce. "I'll shop at your store, if you shop at mine." The increased cost of buying locally will hopefully be offset by increased revenues from other local customers. And even if it doesn't completely off-set, a bit of community "good will" can never hurt either.
And while we are talking about it, I think that shopping local starts by joining the local chamber of commerce. Some businesses don't see how the chamber can benefit them, but it all comes down to one word, "relationships". That's what "Small Business Saturday" is really all about - starting and maintaining relationships. People do business with who they know and trust, and small businesses need to build those relationships to increase business and stay in business.
So...where do you get your business cards?