If you ask most kids where the things in your house came from, they may name their favorite big box store or major online retailer, but it’s important that they know there are local stores that offer a hand-picked selection of high-quality toys, games and books carefully curated with love and care.
Exposure to massive chain stores with dozens of aisles of plastic playthings or books and games ‘magically’ appearing on their doorsteps from online retailers can unintentionally communicate the idea that buying more things faster is best, and divide them from the small businesses in their community.
Teaching your children the importance of supporting local will instill in them community-focused habits that they will carry into their lives as adults, creating a more sustainable outlook and localized economy for us all.
What is local?
The first step is to talk to your kids about what a local business is. Explain that small businesses have few employees and provide products and services to consumers in one neighborhood, community or city. Talk about the fact that the money they spend at these stores support the owners’ family, and small businesses tend to give back to the community they are located in.
Discuss your values
Start a conversation with your kids around what you value as a family when it comes to buying things.
Talk about why it can be important to shop for quality over quantity, and why a small shop with a modest, hand-chosen collection of products can be better for the environment and your community than a huge chain warehouse store which is owned far away. Discuss how small business owners often choose products based on their sustainability or because they were made by someone nearby, or because they’re the very best quality.
Let them know that although they may cost a bit more (and that sometimes that extra expense isn’t an option for some families, including your own), the fact the store owner chose the products themselves means that they can be confident that what they bought was selected with care.
Search them out
Get your kids involved in finding local businesses that they are interested in. Look up small businesses in your area online and plan a visit. Let your little ones have a say in which ones you check out!
Don’t forget to set a budget for the whole trip or for each store so no one gets too carried away.
Meet the owner
When you are in a small business, ask to talk to the owner. Let your children ask any questions they may have and hear what the shop owner has to say about their space and products. Allow your kids to ask why they chose the items they did and what is great about them – guaranteed, the proprietor’s passion will be contagious!
It’s not just toys
Let your kids know that small businesses come in all shapes and sizes and provide all kinds of products and services. From local grocery markets to mom and pop restaurants, coffee shops, and gift and flower shops, they can support local in lots of ways now, and as they get older.
For some great local options, check out our We Love Local feature in every issue!
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