3 Tips for Shopping Locally and Saving Money

by Alexa Mason · 3 comments

Recently, I’ve been trying to phase out some of the big box stores where I can, and instead shop locally. Why? Because shopping locally has some great benefits.

Firstly, you’re putting money back into your own community and promoting local job growth. Secondly, you might be keeping a small, family owned business from the brink of bankruptcy. And lastly, you’re most likely getting a higher quality item.

The problem with shopping locally is that it can sometimes be more expensive. The bigger companies have the power to outsource their manufacturing overseas, buy in larger quantities, and get better prices. Local businesses don’t have these kinds of resources or power at their disposal.

It can be impossible to shop locally for everything, but with these 3 smart moves you can support your local economy and save yourself some money. Here’s how!

1. Ask for a Discount

I come from a family of small business owners. My Dad owns two small department stores so I can vouch that the “ask and you shall receive” advice is a good tactic when it comes to discounts.

In fact, all the employees in my Dad’s stores are allowed to give customers up to 10% off if they ask for a discount. Anything above that has to be approved and a negotiation usually takes part.

If you ask for a discount, especially on items you know have been sitting in the store for a while, you’re most likely going to get it. (The only items this doesn’t apply to are those in high demand.)

I remember my Dad once giving a customer 50% off of a piece of Fenton Art Glass, because it had been sitting in the store too long.  Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to ask. Small business owners have the power to negotiate with you — big box stores don’t have that option.

2. Buy Handmade Items

Handmade, crafted, or customized items are definitely going to be cheaper by shopping locally. Since these are usually homemade and are higher quality items (like quilts, jellies, lotions, candles, furniture etc.).

The reason for the budget-friendly pricing is because a shop that sells handmade items doesn’t want to deal with a middleman, and opts to sell directly to you, the customer. This means they can pass quality items to you for much less than major retailers.

3. Go to a Farmers Markets for Produce

I live in Ohio, surrounded by Amish Country, which means I have access to quite an abundance of Amish produce stands and shops. One thing I’ve learned is that every single Farmers or Amish Market offers produce that’s far superior to the grocery stores but is only about half the price.

Local farmers prefer to display their produce at Farmers Markets, craft fairs, and festivals, so they can take advantage of the farm to table freshness. This high-quality food is available for a much lower price and often tastes a lot better than buying from a chain grocery store.

Shop Locally to Save

I understand that shopping locally exclusively isn’t always realistic. Sometimes the price is more than you’re willing to pay and other times local shops don’t have what you need.

However, there are ways you can incorporate shopping locally into your savings strategy and help support your local economy to boot.

So take time this week to stop by a local shop or farmers market instead of purchasing your goods at a bigger chain store. Use these tips and see how shopping locally can save you money.

What do you shop locally for? Do you have any savings tips to share?

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  • Bill says:

    Coming from a small business background I know that discounts can sometimes be difficult to give. Many times we figured bare minimum profit margins and still be competitive. You can ask but don’t be offended if the answer is ” No “.

  • Joyce says:

    My mom ran several small business at one time or another & the one thing that made her really angry was when people asked for a discount. One guy was being particularly annoying & she finally asked him “Do you ask for a discount at Walmart?” Unless I’m at a garage sale, I would never ask for a discount, regardless of the store’s size or ownership. Hate to disagree with you because I’ve gotten some really great advice! 🙂

  • Jonathan says:

    One of the best ways I have been able to save money by shopping locally is through craft markets. These are usually excellent places to pick up cheap Christmas gifts and also frequently you will find a local food suppliers.

    I also totally agree that small businesses are often easier to negotiate with on price because they are often keen to close a sale unlike high street retailers.

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