Sometimes I want to go where everybody knows my name. Here's why I support small business.

By Amy Crawford

You know what tickles me pink? Returning to a small local business for the second time only and they remember my name. That really tickles me pink. Working from home means there are days I often speak to no one but my dog (warning: crazy dog lady here) so for that reason I find making purchases at huge chain stores soulless and uninspiring. I love (love) a chat, whether that's with the receptionist at my local Osteo clinic, my masseuse, my hairdressers or my barista - if they can spare the time for a few choice words (whilst mentioning my name), they've won my custom and they'll be sure to see me again.

Which leads me onto the point of this post. This Saturday 4 October is Support Small Business Day here in Victoria; a day that encourages and celebrates the big difference that your local small business can make to your local community. It's a day that aims to draw our attention to the importance of spending our money at the local corner store shop front, and to explore our local community. This week my aim is to highlight to you the importance of supporting local when it comes to health and wellness businesses (given that's my preferred domain these days), and I'm here to tell you why.

Why choose small business?

1. Living consciously
Do you know where your veggies come from? Are they even Australian? Do you know how they are grown? Are they sprayed with pesticides? Relatively simple questions aren't they, but in our rushed day to day lives how many of us stop to ask? 

These questions, whilst simple are hugely important; to our health, to our economy, to the jobs of those in our community. When you choose to shop locally you'll get them answered, perhaps without even asking the question. There you'll have the driver dropping off the early morning delivery, with the name of the local farmer on the box. You'll be chatting to the owner of these stores as you purchase your produce, product or service, handing over your dollars knowing they'll be going straight back into his or her business, into the wages of his local employees and into the community you live in as a whole. And you'll experience that awesome sense of connection, so vital in this technology fuelled world. 

2. A sense of community
It is an ambiguous notion that is difficult to describe, it is the 'feeling' of belonging, of membership, a knowing that you are at home and at ease in your environment. A sense of community however has a lot more to do with this 'feeling' than just residing in a particular location. You can live in an amazing location, yet fail to know your neighbours - an isolated existence that is quite an upsetting thought! As you know, I very much value the fact that my local stores know my name, and I value the amazing service that accompanies the relationships I build in my community.

A sense of community however needs to be fostered, and fostered for good reason. Research has shown that a sense of community is integral to positive mental health. Time and again we see regional areas outperforming big cities when it comes to positive mental health. Why? Because country communities take the time to talk. They engage with one another while at the checkout, they mill around and have a good gossip after their morning mums yoga class. The notion of everyone knowing what everyone else is up to can actually be really positive when it comes to our emotional health (or not as the case can often be ;-), and to some extent I believe we should try to foster it within the big city too. 

3. Supporting your economy
It is great news that there are currently more than half a million small businesses actively trading in Victoria. These businesses contribute to a very significant 30% of our State's output, exports and sales (of course translating to a substantial economic benefit for Victoria). 

Supporting your local economy works to support your own personal finances. By buying local from small business operators, consumers increase local competition which in turn drives product innovation and diversity, and in turn helps to create jobs and build stronger neighbourhoods. 

Talking about jobs, small businesses have a huge effect on the Australian job market, keeping our unemployment statistics down. Currently small businesses provide around 1.2 million jobs, through self employment and employing others. Let's work to keep these jobs figures high!

A Staple Space. Photo credit: Georgia Rose Goldsbrough-Reardon

Looking to my local community.

Within my community there are a few health and wellness businesses that I'd like to draw attention to (and for you to support!) for your benefit. 

Plump is my local grocer, they are well stocked with the freshest array of organic produce, not a soggy spinach leaf in sight (in fact owner Jock (pictured above) is so pedantic about the quality of his spinach that it can be a rare commodity some weeks - not complaining Jock, promise!). I don't go to Plump because it's the cheapest organic store around (well it's actually the only organic store in my suburb), I go because their produce is top notch, their service is personalised and sincerely relationship driven (and I often get a good giggle as I shop) and it makes me FEEL good to support a business owner whose face and name I know.

If you're looking to enlist the services of a qualified wellness practitioner, you'll find what you need at A Staple Space. Owned by Catie Gett (of local functional food store fame, The Staple Store), your health needs will be covered across a wide range of modalities including naturopathy, acupuncture, nutrition, massage and yoga. Catie puts her heart and soul into this business, into making these services affordable for all. It's a pleasure to put your hand into your wallet in this gorgeous CBD oasis (seriously).

Being healthy also extends to your hair care, so often overlooked! Head over to Organika in Elwood or Carlton if you'd like to support the three awesome owners of this small yet thriving business, get your hair 'did' with the most nourishing, chemical free, organic products around (whilst eating dark choc, drink nourishing teas and getting good chat).

Are you looking to start (or already own) your own small business?

You may want to get in touch with Small Business Victoria. A range of mentorship programs, workshops and services are available that will best equip you as a small business owner to make the best strategic decisions for your company.

*Do know that while we are speaking specifically of small businesses in Victoria, Australia in this article, the same benefits apply wherever you live, and to you too!

So let's all get around supporting the future of local health and wellness businesses within this article - in the comments below, tell us what and where is YOUR favourite local small business? We might learn of somewhere new.

Shopping at Plump!

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Published:

October 01 2014

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