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Did you know that smaller shops run by the local community can be cheaper to get the same things? Plus you will be supporting a local family rather than a corporate company.
An added benefit to visiting the local Thai stores is that you have more of a chance of getting to know the owner and maybe learning something from them, you can improve your Thai and these small business owners are usually willing to help!
To shop local is the act of regular people like you choosing to purchase your food, clothes, and daily goods from a small company rather than a big store. However, Koh Phangan is primarily made up of local and independent businesses. The only genuine big chains are for food and groceries, so we will focus on that for this article. For all other businesses, most are independently run by Thai and Expat individuals who will have invested their own money and life work.
It means appreciating, sharing, and supporting small businesses in your community.
Because locally-owned companies often buy from other local businesses, service providers, and farmers, more money stays in the community when you shop at locally owned businesses rather than nationally owned ones. In addition, buying locally supports the growth of other companies and the local tax base.
Local companies are owned by residents, who are less inclined to leave and more engaged in the community's well-being and future.
Local companies and shops may not always be able to compete in terms of advertising with bigger chain stores and brands. On the other hand, local companies are more likely to concentrate on the quality of the goods they offer rather than the quantity, unlike bigger shops that must carry a huge number of items.
Local businesses depend on foot traffic from the community. Compared to more well-known mainstream companies, smaller independent stores are likely to get fewer visitors and shoppers. As a result, they often have to make offers in order to attract consumers. This is something that bigger stores may not always accomplish, resulting in a win-win situation for both consumers seeking to buy and the company.
Big companies often offer mass-produced, trendy seasonal goods, while small and independent stores carry things that are historically manufactured locally and are not accessible elsewhere. Whether it's the pattern, design, or flavours of the product, its one-of-a-kindness implies there's a slim chance you won't find it somewhere else.
It's extremely simple to purchase things on the spur of the moment. One of the numerous advantages of buying locally is that you become more aware of your purchases. Assume you're searching for a unique present for someone special. Buying something unique to that shop requires more thinking than receiving a present from a big retailer. It's one-of-a-kind and personal, and you're likely to be the first to present it to them. You're also less likely to wind up purchasing items you didn't want to acquire in the first place.
Here on the island, we are blessed to have a wide array of delicious tropical fruits. What is great here is also that you can buy them in the season when purchasing from local people, traders or farmers.
Fruit is widely available from the fresh market in Thong Sala, local shops also known as Mama shops, walking street market on a Saturday and other markets that happen.
Make sure you look out for random pop-up stands which are selling fruit, usually these are very fresh or straight from a farm. You might see a truck full of watermelon on the side of the road, for example, these are some of the best places to get fruit and it is sold by weight! Also, many individual locals have a garden and you will see them at the side of the road, a table with 2 mangoes, you know it will be fresh!
The same goes for vegetables as for fruit. In Fact, you will always find a wider range of local and imported veg at the fresh market in Thong Sala, one of the main places people and restaurants get their fresh ingredients. Some of the small local shops around the island will be dedicated to selling vegetables and they are very convenient if you maybe forget an ingredient. Most of the villages have a few local veg shops.
On an island surrounded by sea, it is so much better to buy your fish locally. You can even get it straight from the fishermen at either Thong Sala Pier or Baan Tai pier. Ask around to find out how to do this and get yourself a contact. Maybe you can join one of the fishing trips to catch your own!
Thong Sala fresh market has a good few fish stalls and also close to Baan Tai pier you will see fish for sale at small shops by the side of the road.
Once again, the fresh market in Thong Sala is your place to find meat. The stall owners will be able to help you pick out what is best for you. You can find canned and fresh meat in some local shops also.
Most local shops will sell cleaning products as well as fresh ingredients, things like washing powder, laundry conditioner, washing up liquid, cloths and sponges are all available from these places. Unpacked in Sri Thanu makes all-natural cleaning products for your home which are sold on a weight basis where you bring your own refillable container.
Going to grab a beer or two? Don’t go to Seven-Eleven, just turn around and there is usually always a local shop opposite or next door with a fridge full of cold beers or more! You can also find local shops specialising in a wide range of alcohol such as on Walking Street or in other areas of Thong Sala, sometimes with the best prices.
Over the last few years as the island has developed so has its taste for fresh bread and baked goods, probably because more Europeans are making it their home. You can get the best, fresh, most delicious baked goods to take away from any bakery here such as Nira’s, Mimi’s Cafe or Julien’s Bakery. Plus we have the island’s most famous baker Loic who supplies baguettes, bread, croissants and more!
All your local stores will be able to supply you with some hygiene stuff such as toothpaste and brushes, deodorant, soap and maybe even some more fancy items. Pink pineapple on Walking Street is great for these things as well, all their products are naturally made here on the island and feature amazing soaps made with essential oils, bamboo toothbrushes, charcoal face products and many more almost edible self-care products.
Need a coffee? Discover your own coffee lady. Find these stands all over the island selling iced coffee and soft drinks, plus you get to make a friend if you make one your regular. All local shops will have a selection of water, fizzy drinks, juice and other soft drinks.
We would never recommend smoking but if you have to, make sure you buy them from a local shop!
Visiting local businesses and spending locally allows you to network and make friends with your neighbours. Making relationships with others in your immediate environment promotes word-of-mouth marketing and builds the united community to which we all aspire Koh Phangan to be.