Shopping Local has Benefits


Buying local is a way to support the community

“Buying local” isn’t just good for the local economy. It’s also good for the community as a whole.

“Shopping local keeps the money local,” said Martin Goodman, regional director for the University of South Carolina Beaufort Small Business Development Center. “It creates jobs and wealth in the Lowcountry. It keeps businesses in business and it keeps people employed.”

Charlie Clark, vice president of communications for the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, seconded that concept. “Buying local means tax dollars stay in our community and benefit our community,” she said. “It also means job sustenance and creation. We live and work in this community and it benefits all of us to buy local whenever possible.”

By shopping close to home, consumers often get more interesting goods, as well.

“We have an amazing array of offerings when it comes to unique local merchants that cater to visitors and locals alike,” said Clark. “Visitors want to experience the culture and uniqueness of a destination and shopping is a big part of that. Whether it’s trying shrimp and grits for the first time, bringing home a sweet grass basket or a unique piece of island jewelry, it’s something that really matters to a visitor.”

Not only does shopping local provide unique items and foods, things are often better quality, too. “Oftentimes, things made and purchased locally are just better,” said Goodman. “The quality and handicraft of the products are superior.”

And, instead of simply being another face in the checkout line, most small local business owners want to get to know their customers. Personal service and the ability to ask questions and try the product is something not found online. Depending on the store (and your skills), you may even be able to barter with local retailers for lower prices.

There’s also a health and environmental benefit to buying and shopping local. According to Buy Local, Think Global, “Buying food from local South Carolina farms, associations and distributors means getting food when it’s at its prime. Fresh food from local farms is healthier and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the ecological impact of their buying decisions.”

One of the hidden perks that many people don’t consider when they buy local is how local charities benefit. Debbie Berling, owner of Forsythe Jewelers in Sea Pines on Hilton Head, said some of the money consumers spend locally often goes to help their neighbors.

“Every charity on the island goes to local businesses for financial support and help with fundraising. Most of those businesses know it’s good business to support those charities because that means supporting our local community. But it’s not just good business sense. It also shows the big hearts of local businesses.”