For me, this hits home most with craftbeer. Granted, Siloam Springs does not have a brewery (yet) but Northwest Arkansas has multiple with more on the horizon. Getting great beer from brewery to my mouth is my prime objective. I trade worldwide for it, Mrs Butler brings beer from all her trips and I actively seek out local stuff where I take my travels. So I am clearly invested in the process. The problem is this: just because it's small, just because it's local does not make it good.
I recently had a discussion along these lines with a local brewer. Not mentioning specifics of the discussion, I can honestly say we share the same feeling. I WANT to buy your product. I AM a consumer. I LOVE good beer. I am also NOT going to spend on an inferior product. I just can't. With the quantity I buy and trade, I can't AFFORD to. And here's the thing: I just won't.
Make a good product or offer a good service--beer, clothes, coffee, photography, food, and so on--and not only will I support your business...I will shout about it from the rooftops. I'll get on social media. I'll write a blog. I'll talk it up in person. I'll drag people to your store. Here's a hint: that'll get you more business. Which I'd guess you want. And probably need.
Now. Conversely, I am not one to put a business out there as bad or awful with one mistake. Or without addressing management. I've got a restaurant background, and I'd like to have one ahead of me, so I appreciate the personal approach first. But if you are not succeeding, not listening, not attempting to improve? I'll just stop giving my money. That won't hurt conglomerates, but it will hurt Mom & Pop places. I don't want to do that. I don't.
I've said time and again: my goal in this craftbeer era is to put a dent in ABInBev and MillerCoors. I want the little guys to grow and flourish and expand. However, I'm not willing to put bad beer in my belly to help someone else out. Shoot, as a stay at home dad of three girls? I need the good stuff when I have the chance, I don't want to waste any time on bad beer. Or bad food. Or bad what-have-you.
In this social media age, proprietors should know how they are doing based on customer ratings. It's not hard, it's free and it could make all the difference in staying afloat.
I hope more businesses start making better, not just 'selling' local.