Is it time to ban “shop local”?

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I mean, I’m something of a shop local champion. So why am I ready to get rid of “shop local”? 

Because I’m afraid it has lost all its meaning. People have been beat over the head with “shop local” so much, that their heads hurt. They got the “shop local” part, but none of the bigger story made it through.

Here are two of my friends who recently shared very publicly why they didn’t shop local, and how local businesses brought it on themselves. 

My friend James was trying to buy a coffee in a small town in the evening. The local coffee shop was closed. In fact, all the downtown businesses were closed. He ended up at McDonald’s. He wrote about it on Small Biz Survival

Another friend, Chris stepped in to his local coffee shop, where he waited, without service and without attention for too long. And he left, probably for good, and went down the street to (you guessed it) McDonald’s. 

“”LOCAL” DOES NOT EQUAL “GOOD.”” Chris wrote about it later. “Local equals local….If you intend to be a local business, what will push people to choose you instead of the competition?” 

Now that’s a good question! Chris went on to list a whole bunch of ways to give much better service than the chain or the big guys. 

“If you can add value, you can trump price or availability as a local business,” he said.

See, Chris wants to care about local, but he doesn’t want to reward bad service. 

And this is why I’m thinking of giving up on “shop local.” In its place, let’s start with improving our own businesses, and get much, much better about giving service and adding value. Then let’s work with our neighboring businesses to improve, too. Then when we have a good group of outstanding local businesses, let’s take that story to our customers. I’m betting they will listen to that much better than any generic “shop local” message.

This is just one of the big changes I’m working on for the Shop Local Campaigns for Small Town ebook. I’m giving it a ton of new information on how local businesses can earn the business of those local customers. Maybe I’ll even come up with a new title, considering how I feel about the phrase “shop local.” 

Because you’re part of the community here, you’ll hear about the new release first, and you’ll get the best price before I release it on Small Biz Survival. If you want to be notified the minute the new Shop Local Campaigns for Small Towns comes out, click this link  and I’ll send you a special email announcement.

Welcome to a whole bunch of new folks this week. Special shout outs to Tricia Braun, Wisconsin, and Brannyn McDougal, Oklahoma, who joined our community here and also reached out to share a bit about their own rural projects with me. I’m glad you’re here!