by Jessica McElroy
Each month we here at Local Life aim to highlight one or two small businesses in our immediate area in an attempt to shine a light on some of the happenings within our community. Each local business has a unique history and heart for service, and it is our hope that sharing some of their stories can help our community continue to forge connections. This month, we wanted to pause and reflect on why supporting our local businesses is so important.
If the chaos of the COVID years have taught us nothing else, it has certainly highlighted the importance of shopping small and supporting those right here at home as much as we can. When businesses within our community are hurting, we all tend to feel those effects. The reality of shopping small is that you are able to directly support the health of your community. Each interaction with a local business is forging a connection. Connected communities are able to come together and support one another in actions instead of just words when the time arises. Local businesses are often the ones willing to step up and sponsor local athletics or clubs, and are typically the first stop in fundraising efforts. Behind the buildings or brands are humans that are a permanent part of the community. Their lives are here too, and you would be hard pressed to find a local business owner who doesn’t get out and involved directly with those that they are hoping to serve – understanding the actual needs of the local community directly translates into how well they are able to serve and meet those needs.
Customer service can reach a higher level when businesses have the freedom to work in ways that benefit their clients. Small businesses have significantly more of that freedom, which also often translates to a better-quality product to begin with. The freedom to source materials or ingredients in a way that matters to you and your customer is huge. Not only are these businesses often able to offer a higher quality product at a better level of service, they also have the ability to foster a healthy and supportive working environment for their employees. Supporting local means not just supporting the business owner, but each employee and their families as well. Employees being treated better at work translates to more energy available to their family and those around them. The butterfly effect is set in motion.
Setting aside the fact that shopping small often just feels better, let’s take a look at some facts. In the year 2021, the state of Texas alone hosted over 3 million small businesses. A truly incredible number that is indicative of the healthy entrepreneurial economy that exists in our great state. Further, according to the U.S. Small Business Association, those small businesses are responsible for the employment of nearly half (45.1%) of the private workforce. Even more impressive, that number is expected to grow. These statistics lend credence to the claim that small businesses truly are the backbone of a community.
Community growth brings diversity and the need for new resources. We have seen the Burleson population grow exponentially, with the 2021 census estimate sitting at around 51,000 residents. When you include the surrounding areas that pour into and help support Burleson, we have to acknowledge that number is significantly higher. Small businesses allow for diversity of product, and help to meet the wide array of needs that exist in a population of 51,000. Our city is working to maintain that healthy business climate mentioned above, and in the year 2021 issued 55 new commercial permits and 74 certificates of occupancy for economic development. Burleson’s progressing economic development is certainly working towards meeting the diverse needs of our growing population, but there is still room for more. During the past couple of years Burleson has developed a local conference that it is continuing to refine for business owners and community leaders through ProjectU, in hopes of providing a place of learning for like-minded and business focused individuals. For those interested, tickets for next year’s conference will be available soon. We also have an active Chamber of Commerce here, and several annual opportunities for people to get involved, all of which is further indicative of the fact that our city wants local businesses to succeed and thrive. They know that these businesses directly impact daily life for our residents.
The beautiful truth of supporting a small business lay in the fact that you can provide tangible support in multiple ways. Of course, purchasing goods or scheduling services through them helps, but so does simply interacting with them. Find their social media accounts and follow them, like or interact with their content, even share some of it to your own social media pages. These online interactions are free and help them stay on top of the ever-changing social media algorithms, something that can be immensely helpful. Taking a few moments of your time to leave an honest and constructive review is another free and beneficial way to show your support. You can refer them to your friends or family, or even just get out and meet them, understand who they are and what they offer and allow them to get to know what you need as a member of this community. All of these are options that can be helpful to local business owners. Shopping small is a mutually beneficial relationship.
We hope that through our efforts of offering a glimpse of the faces and hearts behind some of our local businesses we are helping our community appreciate the level of love and service that exists right here in Burleson and the surrounding areas. This writer has called dozens of cities home before, and between you and me, there is something incredibly unique about Burleson. This city feels more like Home to this nomad than any other, and I fiercely believe it is because of the people here who are so willing to pour into their community. What a beautiful gift!