"You won't understand until you experience it".
That's pretty much the same wisdom for any major life change: Getting married. Having a kid. Having another kid. Divorce. Losing your health. Losing a loved one. And starting a business. It's one of those super annoying things that people say to you before you start saying it yourself.
And it's true. You can research and feel so informed on any of those topics that you believe yourself to be prepared. But some concepts cannot be fully understood in the abstract.
Suddenly one day you will find yourself on the other side of one of those situations and realize "ohhhhh.... now I get it".
(Of course you will still try to educate other people and describe the fears and humbling learning curve that you know they cannot actually understand from you. Because humans are egocentric. We highly value our own opinions and experiences. That's why we write blogs.)
This is one of those concepts that you abstractly "know", but don't fully understand until you're on the other side. Most folks agree that supporting small, family-owned businesses directly supports their communities. It keeps money in the area and prevents it from going to chains (who ultimately make it harder for small businesses to flourish). But we don't understand the vulnerability of putting your face and dignity on display as a small business owner.
Starting a business from scratch, without the backing of a corporation or big investors, feels like operating a lemonade stand. It takes a community to grow, and every customer counts. (Luckily, because you're not beholden to investors, it doesn't take that many people to pay the bills).
We all know that money=power, but we don't view our shopping as delegation of power.
For most people, knowing "buy local" values doesn't translate into driving that extra mile or spending that extra dollar to exercise that knowledge. We act on impulse (which has been curated by trillions of dollars of advertising), rather than mindful consideration of long-term investments. Many of us (for reasons that don't make any sense) even trust the large, corporate, retailers more than locally-owned stores, and are more critical and less forgiving of small business owners.
Until you start or are close to someone who starts a small business. And suddenly you are enlightened to the struggle of your small business neighbors, trying to compete with flashy and repetitive marketing of powerful corporations. You see people pouring their money, time, and pride into their dream, while friends shop online or at big box stores because it's what they've always done.
So here I am, in the middle of this experience, wiser and more desperate than I once was. Please. Support your local businesses. Shop mindfully. Think about the long-term vitality of your communities and be an example for uninformed people moving in from other states. Your neighbors will thank you. And you will benefit in ways that you may not totally understand right now.
p.s. You know how social media algorithms work. Like, comment, share, and review your friends' businesses and help their visibility. Its literally the least you can do!