Our local business community needs your help – here’s how (even without money)


Our local business community needs your help. Two weeks ago, I wrote about trends facing small, local businesses in our community. Several readers reached out to me directly and asked for my thoughts on how to support the small businesses in our local community. This topic is timely, not only due to the current state of the economy but also because it’s the new year. The new year is traditionally when many of us resolve to do better with habits, resolutions, and personal goals. Consider setting a personal goal of supporting our local businesses more this year. Before listing ways you can support the local economy, let’s consider why that even matters. Please note that everything in this article applies equally well to our small, local non-profits. They need our support also.

Choosing to support local businesses is an act of community-building.

Let’s start with this newspaper. Unlike other news websites, the publisher of this online newspaper has chosen not to put up a paywall to generate revenue. In order to promote free speech and access to the news, revenue comes from advertising – unobtrusive, well-behaved, local ads that don’t pop up and block the content. Revenue is needed to help pay the staff who keep it running and the costs associated with maintaining one of the most popular websites in our community. Unlike other websites, this website is not run by robots or AI – it’s run by real people who report the news, write columns, and contribute hand-written content like this column I’m writing for all of you. Would you like to help? If you own a business, consider advertising. I advertise my own business, Country Fried Creative, on this site. I can tell you that it’s cost-effective and will be seen by more people than most of the other more traditional print and broadcast advertising. If you’re a consumer who doesn’t own a business, talk to your favorite businesses about supporting the paper by becoming an advertiser. Having a free press is vital to our community, but it needs funding in order to operate.

I recently read a short book entitled, How to Resist Amazon and Why by Danny Caine. The subtitle of the book is “The fight for local economies, data privacy, fair labor, independent bookstores, and a people-powered future.” Caine is the owner of a small, independent bookstore – Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas. I won’t summarize the book here except to say that it was a real eye-opener. Support Caine’s efforts and order a copy online to read what he has to say. Like most of you reading this, we also use Amazon – it’s fast, inexpensive, and efficient. Yet, I’m also thinking maybe some of the things I order online should be sourced locally. Caine makes a persuasive argument that supporting local businesses is critical for fostering diverse, vibrant communities. He also touches on the implications of Amazon’s dominance, such as its impact on the publishing industry and its contribution to economic inequality.

When you support a small business,
you are supporting someone’s dream.

It’s not easy running a small business, staffed by local employees. The economic odds are stacked against us. Know that every dollar you spend is going to real people in our community who are trying to support their families. I have a great team, who are underpaid. Most of my peers who own businesses feel the same way. It’s hard to compete with big companies that offer big wages because they have monopolies in their industries, get lucrative government contracts, have access to lots of funding, and obtain subsidies that us small businesses don’t get. Despite that, we’re not looking for a hand-out. We’re willing to work for it, but we would like your support. If you agree and think it’s important to support small, local businesses here are three ways you can do it (even without money).

Shop local – if you’re looking for a place to eat, buy products, or purchase services, look in your community. The well-established ones will probably have a lot of marketing and will be easy to spot. Seek out those businesses who aren’t well-known – they need your money more than those with big marketing budgets. I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy discovering a place that I didn’t know about – especially in our community. There’s one area of the county that’s become our Hollywood. I think that’s great and I’m over there a lot myself walking around the lake (if you see me, stop and say “hi”), but what about the rest of our community that’s not the focus of all of that attention? Consider shopping local with less glamorous businesses. They need your support.

Members of the Fayette County Amateur Radio Club enjoy a group dinner at the historic Olde Courthouse Tavern on the square in Fayetteville. Photo/Joe Domaleski
Members of the Fayette County Amateur Radio Club enjoy a group dinner at the historic Olde Courthouse Tavern on the square in Fayetteville. The Tavern is a small, locally-owned family business. Photo/Joe Domaleski

Support local – it’s easier than ever to support a small business online even without money. Consider following local businesses on social media and help them expand their reach by sharing, tagging, and commenting on their posts. Leave a positive review online. Sign-up for their newsletters. Seek out businesses (and non-profits) who need more online exposure and help them with some social media love. Doing this costs nothing. It’s human nature to follow a trend and popular things. It’s disappointing to see things trending that feature bland (and AI-generated) content. Some of that is cranked out right here in our community. Unfortunately, the way the algorithms work – popularity creates popularity (and many of those numbers are fake). Look for the content that’s clearly not well-financed and appears to be more homegrown. The big media players have plenty of attention, how about your favorite restaurant that doesn’t have many followers? Help them out and it costs nothing but a quick click!

Be kind – show your appreciation to the folks in the community who’ve invested time and money to keep the local economy vibrant. Check in with small business owners and employees to see how they’re doing. Even if you have a bad experience, resist the temptation to complain about it online. One bad review can destroy a business. Instead, talk with the business owner and help them get better and improve. Have patience and understand that small businesses have fewer resources than big businesses. You’re more likely to get better in-person service with a small local business than you are with the faceless large corporate entities and national chains. Let’s work together to help our local economy thrive especially those lesser known small, local businesses who need to get more exposure and attention.

In order to help the small, local businesses in our community get more attention and better marketing, I have partnered with the publisher of this newspaper to launch the Fayette Marketing Initiative. We intend to help local businesses get the attention they need, even if they don’t have much of a marketing budget.

If you’re a small business owner, let us know – we’d love to help you. If you know of a business or non-profit that needs marketing help, perhaps you would consider sponsoring them for the program.

Last year, a person of influence contacted me to pay for my company’s services to help promote a non-profit that couldn’t afford it. Now that non-profit is doing well and all they needed was some marketing. Who else in our community needs more publicity, especially if they can’t afford it?

You can contact me using the Fayette Marketing website or directly via email.

Supporting local businesses is not about charity; it’s about choosing to invest in your community and in the people who live in it.

[Joe Domaleski, a Fayette County resident for 25 years, is the owner of Country Fried Creative – an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Peachtree City. His company was the Fayette Chamber’s 2021 Small Business of the Year.  Joe is a husband, father of three grown children, and proud Army veteran.  He has an MBA from Georgia State University and enjoys sharing his perspectives drawing from thirty years of business leadership experience. Sign up for the Country Fried Creative newsletter to get marketing and business articles directly in your inbox. ]