Making friends as an adult is hard. Have we established that yet? I know I say it a lot, but I just want to make sure you know you aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are a few good ways to meet new people. I recently shared my Bumble BFF experience, which has been–surprisingly–really great so far. (Of course, you always have to do this one thing if you actually want to make friends. But, once you have that down, you will be unstoppable.) Another fun and unique way to make yourself some friends is to support local businesses.
In complete honesty, I didn’t come up with this idea myself. I actually discovered it while doing research for one of my blogging clients. But I do want to discuss it here and even unpack it a little more to help you realize all of the benefits of supporting local businesses… like making new friends.
Here’s the Gist: Local Business Owners are Lonely
That’s kind of a joke, but there’s also some seriousness to it. Being a business owner myself, I can attest to the fact that owning a business and being your own boss can get lonely. While my business is online-based, I can imagine the same goes for local business owners. Even though local boutiques offer unique and one-of-a-kind items, people tend to go to big malls or shop on Amazon for the things they need leaving local businesses with less traffic than they deserve. Similarly, family-owned and local restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops tend to have some of the best food and drinks, but we stick to what we know and go to Chick-fil-a or Cheesecake Factory when looking for a meal out (both my weaknesses).
So what do lonely business owners have to do with making friends? Well, when you walk into a local shop, the person working is much more likely to strike up a conversation with you than the Amazon support guy is. Even if it isn’t the owner working that day, you can still meet really great people who are invested in their community. Plus, it isn’t as intimidating as walking up to a stranger at the gym and trying to strike up a conversation. You can start a conversation about a unique product in their store and go from there.
Here’s the Truth: Local Businesses are a Great Place to Chat with Other Shoppers, Too
Ok, so say Gramps is filling in for his granddaughter (the business owner) the day you decide to stop by the local coffee shop instead of Starbucks for your morning drink. That’s ok. Take a look around and see if there are any potential friends who also support local businesses and shop small. While you’re waiting for your drink (because let’s be honest, Gramps just moves at a slower pace, and that’s ok), strike up a conversation with the gal who is also waiting on her drink. Who knows, maybe if the friend-chemistry is there, you can even schedule a coffee date at the same place.
Here’s the Benefit: You Make Friends and Support Local Businesses
I love this idea because you not only have yet another way to make friends as an adult, but you also help out your community while doing it. As a small business owner, I can tell you this: small businesses need and appreciate your support so much. So, it really benefits everyone. Just remember, making friends takes time. The more you frequent the local coffee shop, boutique, or family restaurant, the more familiar you’ll become with the people who work there and shop there, too! This is how connections begin to form. When you’re ready, strike up a conversation. Make a connection. Support local businesses and make yourself some friends while you’re at it.
Shopping locally is not only another way to make friends as an adult, but you also help out your community while doing it.
Here’s a Tip: Since You’re Probably Not Made of Money
Shopping locally does tend to cost more than using Amazon or your gold star points at Starbucks (or whatever they’re called). So, I know it’s not really feasible to shop local every week or get all of the items you need from a small shop. That’s ok. Here are some ideas for how to support local businesses and make yourself some friends without breaking the bank.
1. Shop With Your Eyes
It’s ok to browse a local boutique and not buy anything. While you definitely don’t want to do this every time, small shops like that tend to get new stuff in often, so stopping by to see what they have and making conversation with the business owner isn’t that weird. Just be sure to support them every once in a while.
2. Shop For Other People
Whether it’s a gift card for a co-worker or a present for your brother’s girlfriend or a housewarming gift for your friend who is finally adulting, there’s always something you need to buy for someone. While I know it’s easier to purchase something from Amazon from the comfort of your sweatpants and couch, head to a local shop and find something there instead. It’s not only more unique and personal, but it also gets you out and about in social situations where you’re more likely to make friends.
3. Shop With Someone Else
Is your mom in town? Take her to your new favorite local shop. Are your brother and his girlfriend coming to visit? Take them out to eat at a locally-owned restaurant. Do you work from home and need a change of scenery? Work at a local coffee shop. (I realize that’s not going with someone else, but it is a good idea and definitely much needed sometimes when you’re tired of being home all day.)
Support Local Businesses and Get Cool Stuff and Cool Friends
So, what do you say? Will you head out to a local shop this weekend and see what (and who) is there? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea of supporting local businesses and meeting new people in this unique way. Feel free to share in the comments!