A New Way to Support Small Businesses

Lark and Lily’s Kirby Sims and her dog Charlie

Small-business owners can’t do it alone, and Kirby Sims is no exception. Though her title at Broad Ripple’s Lark & Lily Boutique is “owner,” she frequently has help in store—her adorable pup, Charlie.

“I love seeing people’s faces when they come in and he runs up to them,” she says.

Pets greeting customers in store. Donations to local nonprofits and other worthy ventures. Owners who share their customers’ strong sense of neighborhood pride. There are so many perks of supporting small businesses, not the least of which is the impact your dollars have when you spend locally. According to Fundera, a small-business financial resource, small businesses generate $68 of local economic return for every $100 spent with them, compared to $43 at a national retailer. Small businesses donate 250 percent more to community causes than do large companies, and small businesses employ nearly half of the U.S. workforce.

In a year that’s challenged small businesses in so many ways, it’s more important than ever to shop local. That’s where TruLocal comes into play for holiday shopping and beyond. TruLocal is a new online marketplace that allows shoppers to easily browse and purchase items from a range of locally based retailers for convenient pickup or delivery options.

Consumers benefit, sure, but so do small businesses. Sims partnered with TruLocal earlier this year, not long before the pandemic forced her to close the doors to her shop for nearly two months. With her focus on online sales during that time, Sims immediately found value in TruLocal’s ability to place her boutique atop search results, meaning shoppers didn’t have to sift through pages featuring big-box retailers before they came across her shop.

“Just the fact that they only want to work with small businesses is amazing,” says Sims. “Small business is where it’s at and what needs to be helped out. That won me over.”

Wendy Alexander, owner of Sweet Things Chocolates, also eagerly partnered with TruLocal this year.

Sweet Things Chocolates

“I didn’t even think about it. I just said, ‘I’m in,’” she says with a laugh. She appreciates the seamlessness of TruLocal transactions, where she simply places the order on a shelf for a delivery person to pick up. That allows her more time to concentrate on other parts of her business—like making about 100 items in house (including super-popular hot chocolate bombs) and shipping orders worldwide during Sweet Things’ busiest month. Alexander has also noticed an uptick in web traffic, something she attributes to TruLocal.

“We appreciate TruLocal for their efforts in what they’re doing, and we just hope to continue to grow with them,” she says.

Sims and Alexander encourage shoppers to continue to back the movement to buy local. They see every day how supporting small and local contributes to growing a stronger, thriving community—exactly the mission of TruLocal.

“It all spends better if you can spend locally,” says Alexander.

“Small businesses are what keep communities alive,” Sims says, “and if you don’t have them, then you don’t really have a community anymore.”