Shopping Local: Good for You, Good for Your Community

  • Visit North Central

Alpacas at Plainview Farm

Finnish coffee bread. Cozy alpaca wool mittens. Piping hot pizza. Hand-crafted jewelry and hand-dipped chocolates. All of these items — and so much more — can be found on the main streets and back roads of North Central Massachusetts.

Whether you’re shopping for gifts or something to indulge yourself, there’s simply no place like home.

That message is especially important these days, when it’s so easy to be lured to the array of merchandise on the market or in big-box stores. But before you start tapping on your keyboard or iPhone screen, consider how many times you’ve run downtown to pick up a quick gift or something tasty to bring to a party. Think of the local merchants — your friends and neighbors — who have always gone the extra mile, wrapping that gift, putting a special touch on a cake, or donating goods or services for your community fund-raising event.


Coffee Bread from Kitchen Garden

It’s a Win-Win Decision

You’ve heard it a million times: Small businesses are the heart of the community. They’re the engine that keeps the economy running. They’re owned by generations of families that have provided personal service while fulfilling your own family’s needs through the years.

While the big retailers get a lot of attention as the stock market dances up and down, it’s the small, local businesses that support your community. In fact, national research shows that for every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $48 stays in our cities and towns.  That’s compared to only $14 of $100 that is spent at a chain and just $1 of $100 spent at large e-commerce retailers.  Those dollars support the essential services that we all rely on, including police, fire, schools, streets, and more.

Unfortunately, it’s been a tough year for small businesses struggling to stay afloat. And when they’re gone, they leave a gaping hole in the fabric of a community. So there’s no better time than now to support those local businesses that are such an essential part of our lives.

Ten Easy Tips

And here’s the good news: It’s easy to do — even if you’ve become wedded to online shopping.

Here are a few tips to show your support of local businesses, while fulfilling your own family’s needs:

  1. Choose non-traditional gifts! Consider the gift of a unique experience in North Central Massachusetts. How about a hike with alpacas? Skiing passes? Painting classes?
  2. Eat in or order take out from local, independent restaurants.
  3. Order online from local small businesses if they offer online shopping.
  4. Choose curbside pick-up or delivery options from local retailers if available.
  5. Show them some love on social media! Like, comment and share their posts. Leave them a review. This word of mouth advertising helps get their message out and promotes the small business.
  6. Buy “Gift Local” Gift Cards. Available at the Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center on Route 2 and at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce office on South Street in Fitchburg, Gift Local cards — accepted at more than 40 local businesses — make wonderful, flexible gifts for birthdays, holidays, giving thanks, employee appreciation and much more! They can be purchased in any denomination and can be used to pay for merchandise, meals, and services. Because the Gift Local Card cannot be spent outside of North Central Massachusetts, it keeps more dollars circulating in the region and helps support small businesses and our local communities. (Learn more at
  7. Want to shop in person? Consider early hours, late hours or contact the business to see if they can do private hours for you.
  8. Pay in advance, or buy yourself a gift card for services or goods that you may need down the road. This will help with cash flow for the business.
  9. Tip extra at local small businesses — remember that employees are at work daily, meeting your needs.
  10. Say thanks! This is a stressful and difficult time, and a little appreciation can go a long way toward lifting spirits.

Got your shopping list ready? Make another list — of the small businesses that have been the backbone of your community — and remember to “shop local.”