There are over 38,000 U.S. supermarkets in operation.
Of this number, less than 6,000 are unconventional or offer more local, gourmet fare.
This means that local grocery stores, those that do not operate under any chain, face more competition than ever before.
However, this does not mean that your local small grocery store is not worth your stopping by. Due to such competition, your local grocery stores are likely to be the most innovative.
Read on for insight into why this is the case and why you should shop locally!
Your Local Small Grocery Store
Your town’s small grocery store may be a corner market. It may even be a local health food store.
In some rural areas, small grocery stores may be the only food supplier for a given district or county.
You and your family may depend on your local small grocery store. Or you may prefer to shop at other chain supermarkets, those that often have more grocery aisles and offerings.
Such a choice is understandable. Some small grocery stores charge higher prices for their goods. Others may simply not have what you need.
This is the heart of competition between smaller grocery stores and larger supermarkets: selection and price.
Yet this type of competition can be positive. Faced with larger, more “cost-effective” competitors, smaller grocery stores must do what they can to keep their current customers and retain more.
They know that they have to step up their game, in many ways, to address larger and more stable clientele. For this reason, smaller groceries rather than larger supermarkets tend to be more innovative.
The Value of Shopping Local
But innovation, one may argue, is not a compelling enough reason to shop locally. Here are some other reasons why shopping locally at your corner grocery is beneficial.
1. Most Local Grocery Stores are Family-Run
However, smaller grocery stores do have something in common: they are typically run by locals or county residents, those who have a healthy investment in your community.
In fact, many groceries are family-run. Some have been around for generations, passed from family member to family member.
This automatically makes for a more personal shopping experience, something that may be harder and harder to find in the future. Family-run businesses are arguably more trustworthy, as customers can easily contact a manager or owner if need be–and converse with a real human!
Locally owned businesses are also more likely than chain stores to care about their community. They may demonstrate this care by selling local wares and produce or calling regulars by name.
They may even participate in events and sponsorships, both of which can foster community spirit and togetherness.
2. Local Groceries Support Local Workers
Most local shops promote or sell distinctly local products. Local groceries may, for example, stock their produce sections with eggplants and brussels sprouts from local farmers.
They may even sell products crafted by local artisans, depending on the type of shop.
Thus, by shopping locally at your corner market, you may not be supporting just one business: you may be supporting multiple, including professionals who work hard to keep your community afloat.
3. Find a Sense of Community
It can be easy to get lost in the floods of customers at a supermarket. Yet in smaller, more confined grocery stores, it is far easier to find a sense of belonging and community.
This may be simply because customers know the owner of the grocery store herself or himself.
Yet small grocery stores facing competition from larger supermarkets are deriving more ways to integrate more consciously into the community fabric.
They may, for example, attempt to cater to specifically working-class individuals. They may even craft what are called “food experiences,” such as on-tap kombucha bars or to-go deli bars and takeaway options.
Whatever the case, local grocery stores know the value of community–and they know that this is where they can find their niche. Drop by your corner market to find that sense of community.
4. Local Shops Are More Likely to Respond to Your Distinct Needs
Because they are invested in the community, small grocery stores are more likely to respond to customer needs. They may go out of their way to stock a special item, for example.
Or they may address specific cultural niches by offering certain kinds of food, like an Asian-inspired food bar or international ingredients.
Some local stores will offer on-demand delivery or online ordering.
Shopping at a local grocery store is thus even more likely to be a personalised experience. For this reason, some locals may feel that smaller grocery stores are more likely to carry what they need–rather than supermarkets with their aisles and aisles of offerings.
5. Your Local Grocery May Be Fighting for Your Rights
Because local groceries are deeply embedded in their communities, they may even take part in social activism.
For example, a number of package-free, zero waste groceries are popping up all over the world in an attempt to reduce environmental impact–and make the shopping experience easier for their customers.
Others may take a stand for certain community issues, such as worker’s or farmer’s rights.
It can be difficult to find this kind of community involvement in supermarkets. However, this is just one of the many ways that local groceries are delivering ideas that their communities are most likely to respond to, in spades.
Your Local Grocery Store
Most people assume that shopping locally is advantageous only for local economies. And while this is definitely the case, visiting your local small grocery store has more impact than most realise.
For one thing, smaller groceries tend to be more innovative due to the competition they face from supermarkets. They are more likely to cater specifically to customers’ needs by offering eclectic ingredients, local produce, and cost-effective products.
Small groceries are also frequently locally operated (or even family-run). Walking into your corner market may thus grant a powerful sense of community.
At Seedling Commerce, we care about the future of grocery shopping. Learn more about selling food online by reaching out to us now!