Growing up in a small town it was easy for me to shop local and build a relationship with the business owners that ran their own companies. I went to school with the butchers children, played soccer with local farmers, and went fishing with former NHL hockey players that are now selling insurance. It was easy to turn to these people when i needed products or services because that personal relationship was built. Even when larger companies came to town such as Walmart, it was hard to turn away from someone that gave you superior service and you had a connection with. With changes in the economy and security threats these relationships are starting to become less and less. People are forced to cut costs and look for cheaper alternatives to maintain their current lifestyles. Mega box stores are also everywhere now and offer you everything that you need under one roof.
Have we changed as consumers? Or is it that smart marketers have us believing that their brand offers the pie-in-the-sky solution and can't be beat. Larger companies with deep pockets have the ability to change peoples perceptions because they have the resources to do so. The small and medium size business simply can't promote and get their message out to have their side of the story heard. I don't think we've changed as a consumer, we still want convenience, we still want quality products, and of course we want them at competitive prices.
Since moving to Toronto (Canada) it's been one of the things that i got away from in the beginning because i simply didn't know where to go and had no relationships built to be able to shop local. The normal places such as Walmart, Great Canadian SuperStore, and Costco had my business because I knew I could get what I need at these places. Now that i've been established for sometime now i'm starting to get back to the local roots of the community because i'm looking for that great quality and service that I used to get back home.
Examples in my life how i changed and why
I used to shop at GNC for my supplements, now i shop at Bulldog Nutrition and i get better prices, better service, money back, t-shirts, and shaker cups.
I used to purchase my chicken from Costco, now i purchase it from JW Foods. They cut and clean the chicken for me, air dry it individually, and freeze it. Best chicken that i've ever purchased! They also prepare my fresh, extra lean, double ground sirloin into 8 oz. vacuum packed portions at no extra cost. Try asking for that at Costco
My gym clothing would be purchased from Nike stores, Dick's Sporting Goods, or larger retail stores. Now i'm very happy to be wearing clothing from Sweat Collection. Their products are amazing, they support me as a fitness model, and it's a great partnership.
Try shopping locally and you'll see that you'll be treated better, offered better quality products and services, and you'll walk away much happier.