I grew up in a town with no big box stores or chains, so I only knew about “shopping local”. This term is in regards to not just shopping in your town, but rather shopping at the places that were owned and operated by the people in your community. Of course it is near impossible not to shop at popular multi-store shops, since we get most of our clothes from a mall anyway, or our groceries from chain locations. I am not saying to never shop at places like this but to be consciences of the Mom and Pop shops in your communities.
When I got to college, I was certainly exposed more to larger chain stores, with Wal-Mart, BJ’s Jordan’s Furniture, Plant Fitness, Barnes and Nobles, Chili’s and Home Depot. I am positive that I have stepped foot in all of these places and more, but depending on where you live these types of places are more prevalent. With the popularity of stores like these in the towns we live in, we see less and less of the family owned businesses. It is unfortunate, but lower prices, larger selections and convenience have replaced customer service, hospitality, and friendships from our shopping and dining experiences.
Chain stores are found more in the southern part of the state, but as you continue to drive north you will find a gift shop owned by your neighbor a unique clothing boutique run by members of their community, restaurant’s grocery and book stores all with selections that favor the demand in the area. I prefer to, when I can, Shop Local. As a college student I worked with the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce to promote their Shop Localcampaign that supported shopping in the town. This program was and still is successful to this day.
A recent example of this, for me, was doing something I never would have thought I’d be doing at 25, but that is mattress shopping. I was told to go drive down south (more than 1 hour) to some of the bigger and popular furniture stores. However, right in my backyard was Harris Family Furniture. This family owned business operates out of 3 locations and has been in business for over 45 years. There stores have been set up inside of refinished post and beam homes from yesteryear. The attentiveness of the staff to our questions and concerns was comforting and their quality delivery service left us with no concerns. The only other thing people would argue with is the prices. I’ll tell you after researching big box stores online, the prices were reasonably close, enough to not make me drive more than an hour and pay for delivery. On top of it they were having a sale so our mattress was less than it would be at a box store! Double win!
If cost is a big concern to you than stick with your big box stores, if friendly conversation and customer service are more up your alley, shop local more. New Hampshire is full of great places that won’t rank highest on your Google searches, but they will give you what you need and more, with a smile. We all have our favorite places to shop, but next time you are out, try somewhere new, a sports store that your coach operates, or restaurant that your friend’s parent’s own. Enjoy shopping local.