On the brink of Black Friday, Nov. 26, and Cyber Monday, Nov. 29—when consumers are heavily bombarded with advertising from major retailers—Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to shop local too. Nov. 27 is Small Business Saturday.
"We're so used to hearing about the large stores that we often forget about the little guys," says Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. "We forget how rewarding it is to spend dollars locally with trusted neighborhood businesses… It's a good feeling."
Although purchasing online is relatively easy, buying local has its own perks. Community-based businesses are often interested in building relationships and keeping customers; subsequently, they are typically accountable, available and easy to locate if an item needs to be returned or exchanged. Additionally, if it's really local, items can be inspected in-person with no delivery issues or shipping charges.
BBB offers the following tips on shopping local:
· Take a walk—or a drive—around the neighborhood. Gift cards are great, but window shopping can help stimulate gift ideas. Stop in to businesses you pass during the daily commute. Unexpected deals may be waiting.
· Ask a friend, coworker or family member. They may have a favorite boutique or shop to share.
· Find businesses through Better Business Bureau. Search BBB's Accredited Business Directory; consumers can limit results by zip code. Additionally, request a free printed copy of BBB's Yellow Pages.
· Look for a company invested in the community. Besides BBB, consumers can also turn to a local Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau or other business membership organization—which may indicate a business' commitment to its community. These organizations often have membership directories filled with businesses by city and/or county.
· Look at coupons. Discount cards and coupons might get overlooked in the mail or online, but look closely at deals. Coupons help connect consumers to local businesses they might not know about.
BBB recommends doing preliminary research on products, services and businesses before making purchases. Comparison shop and read product reviews. Always verify business licensing with the state and check out companies at www.bbb.org.