Students should explore their local markets

ASU students have the unique opportunity to support local businesses

In a college town like Tempe, ASU students have an easy avenue to diversify their shopping and get more involved in their local economy. 

While large chains, often removed from the social aspects of buying and selling, may be the only option for residents in other parts Arizona, Tempe hosts a wide variety of local businesses offering everything from coffee to clothes.

Students can take advantage of the opportunity to not only get involved their local community, but also foster personal relationships with the people who provide their goods and services.

Monika Lisjak, associate professor at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business, said that there already seems to be a generational shift in the types of shops people frequent. 

“I think that millennials are more inclined to support local businesses,” Lisjak said. “I think that millennials feel closer to their community, and so by buying locally, they are supporting their community."

ASU certainly facilitates this trend, promoting local avenues for students to get their morning coffee at places like Charlie’s Cafe as well as healthy shopping at the Fresh and Local Markets.

Some students at ASU are also entering the market as local entrepreneurs with startups and business ventures of their own.

Jennifer Mazel, ASU freshman studying biochemistry, runs her own small business of handmade knits called ShopJennaLynn and said she was astounded by the local support she's received.

“The amount of support and outreach from the community that I’ve gotten is kind of crazy,” Mazel said. “I spend so much time designing and making my products, and to see someone else wearing it, or when people post pictures on social media, or even just out and about when I run into people wearing my hats and headbands, I think that is super cool.”

Students with entrepreneurial mindsets can contribute to the local economy both buying and selling locally.

Michelle Daniels, a marketing doctoral student, said that for some people, there are also other goal-fulfilling benefits to shopping locally.

“Consumers all have very different goals, and they should do whatever might help them achieve these goals,” Daniels said. “For example, if they want to be environmentally friendly, they have more of a reason to shop locally … Shopping locally helps support communities and keeps more money local, which is certainly beneficial.”

On a large scale, shopping locally is beneficial for several reasons: small businesses are more environmentally sustainable than large corporations, as industrial pollution comprises 50 percent of the total pollution in the U.S., and shopping locally also generates more wealth for the local economy.

Buying from local business owners is a great way for students to gain an appreciation for their local culture and get to know the people in their community.

“Another reason people might want to buy locally is that you can have more of a personal relationship with the people working at the establishment or store, and I think that’s something that people appreciate,” Lisjak said. 

ASU students should skip the Starbucks line every once in a while and open their eyes to the diversity in their local market. 

“Shopping local is supporting local,” Mazel said. “Through (my business) I’ve met so many other small business owners, and everyone is so unique and has their own reasons that they started their own small business. I love supporting them.”

Reach the columnist at or follow @KarishmaAlbal on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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