By Becky McCray
I’ve been thinking lately how many large challenges we face as a society that come down to not thinking from other people’s perspectives.
Our communities could use more empathy. Doing business with each other can help us build empathy.
Selling something requires us to think about other people. We have to think about what other people will like, what they will buy. That is thinking from another person’s perspective.
In my years as retail store owner, I remember putting myself in my customers’ place, trying to understand what they might want to buy this week.
Buyers also can potentially improve their empathy when they realize that local sellers offer something that the buyers value enough to purchase. That’s even more important when the buyers and sellers come from different groups, like when a local farmer wanders through the Hispanic grocery and finds something new to try.
Businesses are essential third places where people can connect with each other. Your first place is your home, your second place is your work. Your third places are where you go to be with other people.
Retail businesses can be a third place, too. Ever go to the grocery store to buy 3 things but it took half an hour because you stopped to talk to people? Community happens when people talk to each other!
We’re rebuilding social capital while we’re chatting with friends or with a clerk over our purchase.
That doesn’t happen when people buy online. It has to be in person.
All good reasons why local commerce builds strong communities.