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10 Tips for Supporting Local.

In the fall, there was a huge movement to support local during the holidays. Now that the holidays have ended, I’m hoping the support for local doesn’t end too! That’s why I’m sharing some easy tips for supporting local into 2021 and beyond.

But before diving into the post, a quick caveat that certain tips may be easier to apply depending on where you live and the kinds of small businesses you have access to. For example, there is likely a bigger variety of brick and mortar small businesses in a city versus a small town or rural area. Luckily, the internet is helpful, and living and supporting local does not have to be restricted based on geography.

On that note, keep reading for my top 10 tips for supporting LOCAL this year…

1. Stay curious.

I think the number one top way to support local is to stay curious. Curious about how to shop in a different way. Curious about where to find products in places other than big box stores. Curious about trying different foods and recipes, based on what produce is local to you.

If we stay curious, our minds stay open to new ways of doing things, and our eyes stay open to the places all around us that create new opportunities to support local. This brings me to my next point…

2. Explore your neighbourhood.

It’s amazing how many small businesses exist around us that we have no idea about. I feel like I am constantly discovering a new cool place to support every time I walk down the street. My strategies for exploring the neighbourhood are to get out for a stroll often, take new routes as much as possible, and take note of your surroundings when you are out and about.

I’ve discovered countless cafes, restaurants and boutiques by going out for walks. If I pass something that looks interesting, I’ll do a quick search on Google or on social media, and then take note if it’s a place I want to check out.

Exploring can be online too. One of my favourite ways to discover places in the neighbourhood is to follow neighbourhood pages on Instagram. For example, some of Halifax’s neighbourhoods have IG pages to promote businesses in their areas: @downtownhalifax, @downtowndartmouth, @nebahfx (Northend Business Association), @quinpool_road are just some examples of pages that promote current and new businesses in those parts of the city.

Check social media or Google to see if your community has a page, website or even newsletter to follow and stay informed.

3. Keep a list.

I am a huge list person; they’re truly one of the best ways to remember something (unless you’re superhuman). To keep track of places you’ve discovered, keep a list of your favourite local businesses under various categories like: food, clothes, gifts, home items, and more.

Another approach to the list is to note an item – like socks, for example – and the local businesses you can or have bought them from. That way you remember where you can get socks (or whatever it is) and support local next time you need them.

The list could be on your phone, an excel spreadsheet or a piece of paper… whatever works for you!

4. Research. Research. Research.

I’m trying to get better at exploring my options when shopping for certain things, and that means doing research. It can be time consuming, but it’s also rewarding when the research leads to finding the item you need at a local business (versus Amazon or another big box store).

To research, it can be as simple as a quick Google search. I also go to my list of businesses under whichever category I need, and do a search on their online store or send a quick DM inquiry on Instagram.

Another great option is to ask friends for recommendations; with more people making an effort to support local, it’s possible your friends will have recos for where you can find the thing you need.

5. Shop at farmers’ markets.

Shopping for produce and other goods at farmers’ markets is one of my favourite ways to support local. And during the pandemic, many farmers’ markets have become more accessible and convenient with online ordering, pick-up and local delivery. So if you want to start integrating locally grown or made products into your weekly grocery haul, google your local farmers’ market to see what kind of options they have for buying safely.

The other awesome thing about farmers’ markets is that they often sell products besides food, like bath products, home d├ęcor and other accessories. If you’re not interested in buying local food, consider checking out your local farmers’ market for other products instead.

6. Skip big food delivery services.

Big food delivery services, like Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes, charge local restaurants high fees on every purchase through their apps. So where possible, it’s great to order delivery or pick-up directly from your favourite restaurants.

One USEFUL aspect of these apps, however, is to use them as a tool to discover restaurants near you that serve whichever meal or cuisine you’re craving. Just make sure to call the restaurant directly once you decide what you want to order.

Another great option is to look up local delivery services that are more ethical and do not charge restaurants such high fees. One great example of a local delivery service in Halifax area is HaliHUB. This service was created to support local restaurants, to keep money within our own city, and to give people another option to support local businesses without relying on the big companies that take so much money away from restaurants (and from our local economy).

It’s unlikely that every community will have a service like this, but do a quick Google search in case a local delivery option has started up near you.

7. Thrift!

It struck me one day as I was browsing a small thrift store that thrifting is a great way to support local if you’re shopping at a locally owned, small thrift store (not so much a Value Village). It’s also a win-win-win situation; you’re supporting small business by shopping there, while still buying brands you love but at a more affordable price! It doesn’t get better than that.

8. Buy gifts from small businesses.

If giving local gifts is the one way you decide to support local in your life, it’s a great way! You can find so many cool gifts or gift certificates for cool experiences at online or brick and mortar businesses in your community.

Plus, giving a local product or experience to someone else is basically promoting a brand… especially if the “giftee” gets hooked on the brand, you’ve just spread that local love a little bit further.

9. Support online… for free.

Supporting small businesses online is an awesome, no-cost way to support local. And there are so many easy ways you can support your favourite local businesses for free online, including:

  • Share a positive review of a product or experience you’ve had on your social media pages… word-of-mouth is the best promotion tactic!
  • Leave a positive review on Google reviews.
  • Follow local businesses’ social media pages.
  • Share, like, save or comment on your favourite local businesses’ social media posts.
  • Participate in giveaways on social media… giveaways are an awesome opportunity to promote local businesses by tagging your friends or sharing their posts in your stories. Plus, if you win the giveaway, you can share your experience with the prize on your own page to let people know about the brand!

10. Start small.

As with any new habit, it’s best to start small and not get overwhelmed by making a huge change all at once. A great way to start is with the first few points on this list: stay curious, explore your neighbourhood, make a list, research. Then, you can start to integrate local products and services into your life little by little… perhaps by buying one item from the local farmers’ market per week, or by sharing a review of your favourite local business on your social media.

Whatever strategy you choose to support local is a great one, and I’m positive there are lots of local business owners, farmers and makers who will appreciate the love you give them.

P.S. How do you support local in your life? If you have any other tips or tricks, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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