MINT HILL, NC – Talk to a few local business owners, and the answer is clear: shopping local does not necessarily mean paying a higher price or less selection.
“Quite the contrary,” says Woof ‘n Hoof Owner Patrick Holton. “We are very competitively priced and actually lower on many products than what you would find online. While we can’t stock every pet product there is in store, we are more than happy to quickly order (if available) and keep on hand whatever you are looking for.”
“I’d tell people who think it’s more expensive to shop local that they need to experience it!” says Carolina Hemp Company Owner Monica Hailey Sharpe, who admits she used to think the same way. “When I lived in Charlotte, I thought it was better to go to larger places, but living in Mint Hill forced me to go to Harris Teeter instead of Costco or to Woof ‘n Hoof rather than Petsmart. It’s amazing how much more convenient it is to have everything in walking distance. ”
“We have not raised our prices in over two years,” says Anna Turovskaya, Owner/Operator of locally-owned and operated fast casual burger joint Wayback Burger. “Our prices are still the same even when everything around us is going up, including our supply chains. We try to keep our prices affordable and priced way below our competitors.”
With inflation for the 12-month period ending in October 2022 at 7.7%, it’s impossible to deny that things simply cost more than they did a year ago. “Prices are higher everywhere,” admits Monroe Hardware Assistant Manager Kate Nicholson, “but we definitely don’t have limited selection. We try to have unique items at competitive pricing.”
Low square footage in small “mom and pop shops” can also be misleading. “If selection is limited, ask if there’s another way to get more of what you’re looking for,” suggests Massage Sanctuary Owner Lisa Lane. “Merchants don’t know if you don’t ask, and most of us are happy to figure out a solution.”
Sometimes local stores even offer selection big box stores can’t. “Often, local means unique items that are hard to find elsewhere,” says Timothy Burgess, Owner of Your Local Game Store. “For example, we have games made by local NC creators that wouldn’t be easy to acquire elsewhere.”
Shopping local is worth your while – even if it doesn’t come at the lowest price.
It would be untruthful to suggest that local retailers are always equivalently or lower priced than big box stores. But local retailers have a lot to offer that big box stores miss.
“In some cases, local does mean a higher price, this is true,” admits Burgess. “Those prices occur for a lot of reasons, but let’s focus on what that extra price provides and supports not just during the holidays but every day.”
“Local offers many extra perks,” continues Burgess. “For example, we have play space so people can bring in a game, gather others around and play. We have a library where people can actually look at and rent games prior to buying them so they can find what they enjoy. Shopping local helps to keep fellow community members employed. Local means community, excellent customer service, and love, to be honest. We do what we do because we love our community. We love to see our regulars and to make a positive difference in someone’s life and day.”
“Shopping local always supports your community directly and at Mint Hill Arts!” says Mint Hill Arts Communications Director Jessica Schlesinger. Making a purchase from Mint Hill Arts not only supports local artists but also keeps the nonprofit, volunteer-run art gallery, which offers free monthly art shows, running. “Shopping local will always provide you with more interesting, unique, one of a kind items,” adds Shlesinger, mentioning the art, jewelry, journals and cards for sale in Mint Hill Arts’ gift shop.
“Shop local because your money stays in the community,” encourages Lane. “Supporting a local business helps us to be successful, and in return, we are able to support the community as well.” “Local businesses tend to give back to their community tenfold in ways you may not even see,” adds Soothe the Soles Owner Sandy Harrison.
Moreover, shopping local means supporting your neighbors. “Local businesses owned by mom and pop depend on your purchases for them to pay their mortgage, electricity, and groceries,” reminds Harrison. “Shopping local Mint Hill businesses means you’re supporting Mint Hill Families,” says Libby DeYoung, Manager of Abbey Rose Floral Artistry. “Our family lives in Mint Hill, we shop in Mint Hill. My son goes to a Mint Hill school; he plays sports in Mint Hill.”
“We’re a business, but we’re members of the community also,” says Burgess. “We donate time and products to local organizations and schools. Amazon isn’t the person who is going to local functions, organizing local events, or showing up at your school or charity organization to teach, help, and support. Your neighbors that run local stores are those people.”
Local small business owners can provide a more individualized, personal shopping experience. “We value our customers and will go the extra mile for them as opposed to big box stores,” says Nicholson.
Shopping locally can also mean a higher quality product. “Look at it this way,” says Lane. “Shopping local usually means higher quality and more value for your money. If it’s made by someone’s hands, with some added love and care, then it’s going to be worth it. If it’s no good within a year, then why bother?”
“Remember your local neighborhood business,” concludes Mint Hill Coffee & Social House Owner Annette Smith. “2022 has been a challenging year for many, in some ways more than previous years. Don’t forget about us! Your encouragement and support means so much and helps us to continue to be here for you.”