Want to help your community? Shop at local, small businesses

NOTE: this piece was written weeks before the Coronavirus shutdown, but it’s message may be even more important now as we watch so many small businesses fight for survival during the Coronavirus shutdown and we see the impact it is having on everyone associated with the small businesses and then on our community.


When you did your shopping this past holiday season, did you shop mostly on Amazon or in “big box” stores? Or did you go to your local small businesses? If you answered the latter, thank you. If you said Amazon, why? Huge corporations don’t walk you through the buying processes, they just shove product in your face and tell you to buy more.
I work at Fox Chapel Ski and Board, a small family run business in Blawnox. I am one of just ten employees. Three employees’ livelihoods are completely dependent on how much the store makes in a given year. They give it their all every day to keep the place going strong.
When you go to small businesses, you are getting a very personal shopping experience. No online retailer is going to choose products best suited for you, and then give you a discount for being a loyal customer.
Small business owners love regulars and you may even create friendships with the employees if you shop local frequently. Also, the money you spend goes to your own community and not an international corporation.
Gerry Greisenegger, owner of Fox Chapel Ski and Board, spoke about owning a small business in today’s landscape. FC Ski and Board was started back in 1982, and he began running it himself in 2005, fresh out of high school.
“In the mid-2000s, every small retailer thought the apocalypse was coming with online shopping…I think people have caught on to the fact that online shopping isn’t cheaper…you’re just buying old or lower quality stuff,” he said.
Along with other small business owners, he chooses to spend his own money locally to keep the community thriving.
“Almost all of my spending budget is used at small business or brick and mortar stores. Little shoe stores, local bike shops, family owned restaurants and cafes outside of maybe the occasional Mickey D’s breakfast sandwich.”
“Local businesses offer you a lot of info that [online] reviews don’t…they also offer services and an atmosphere that is impossible for online retailers…and of course they bring money and jobs to your community,” he said.
At the end of the day, you should be spending your money at small businesses when possible. It’s better for you, your neighbors, and your community as a whole. Next time you even go out for something small, make sure you buy it locally.