I mention this because we've tried to be intentional about going to locally owned, mom-and-pop restaurants and stores. Not only is the customer service more personal, it is far more likely that the owners and workers are going to be invested in the local community. I saw some statistics awhile back pointing out that 45-58% of dollars spent at a local independent store stay in the local community, while this is only true of 13-14% of dollars spent at national chains and big-box stores.
Here's a snippet from a recent article in Publishers Weekly about supporting local independent bookstores:
A study in Austin, Tex., revealed that more than three times the amount of money stayed in a town when it was spent at the local bookstore as opposed to a chain. Studies in Illinois and Maine back up this finding.
But there are many other reasons to support local businesses. Stores in downtowns—as many locally owned, independent businesses are—tend to be cheaper for their towns; they use fewer public goods and therefore fewer tax dollars. For instance, a study in Barnstable, Mass., found that a big box retailer "generated" a net deficit to the town of $468 per 1,000 square feet, whereas a specialty retailer produced a net annual return of $326 per 1,000 square feet.
Locally owned businesses draw tourists, too. Vermont's director of the department of tourism told me that a recent survey of tourists indicated that one of the primary reasons they come here is because of its distinctiveness. They don't want to shop at the same stores they have back home.
Also worthy of note is that small businesses give more to nonprofits than big businesses do. In fact, small businesses give more than twice as much per employee as large firms do.