Local Vs. Chain Stores: Here’s How Tacomans Shop

Editor’s note: Last month we did a survey on how people shop in Tacoma. It was meant to be published before Christmas but life went and got in the way so it’s quite a bit late. Sorry about that. We did find some interesting data, though, that could still be useful for local businesses. 

It’s also good to keep in mind for average consumers when you’re making decisions about where to spend your money. There is a lot of data here and the charts below don’t cover all of it. If you’re interested in digging into all the details, you can download the all the results as a PDF at the bottom of this article.

1. Almost an even split with a slight majority of respondents doing most of their shopping online.

2. A little more than a quarter of respondents said that 50% of their shopping was done online, followed by a little more than a third of respondents saying less than 25% of their shopping was online and with 33.3% saying more than 50% of their shopping was online.

The extremes (“None” or 100%) were in the minority meaning most people do some online gift shopping and often with the less than 25% to more than 50% range.

3. The majority of respondents did half of their shopping in-store, followed by 30.3% doing less than 25% of their shopping in store and 25.8% doing more than 50% in store. Like above, the extremes were in minorities with most respondents’ in store shopping falling in the less than 25% range to the more than 50% range.

4. No significant majority but the ranking order of in-person shopping locations is as follows:
-Target, Costco, Walmart, and Nordstrom.

5. Over a quarter of respondents cited easier shopping as their reason for shopping in-store, followed 11.4% citing more product options, and 10.2% selecting no particular reason. Other options like better deals, unique items, supporting local, etc were selected by less than 10% of respondents.

6. Most online shopping was done on Amazon (53.3%) followed by Etsy (20%). All other options received only 1% of the respondents’ vote.

7. Like with in-store shopping, easier shopping and more product options were the main reasons respondents shopped online. All other options were selected by less than 5% of respondents. A larger portion did select more product options as their reason for shopping online (33%) than shopping in-store (11.4%).

8. Proctor was the clear favorite here with around 20% of the total. This includes people who listed the neighborhood in general as well as individual shops. The two largest percentages overall went to Stocklist Goods (8.5%) and Compass Rose (6.8%).

9. Despite the majority of respondents selecting shopping at local small businesses as important or very important, larger commercial brands were selected by the majority of respondents for online and in-store shopping.

It should be noted that several respondents said they would do more local shopping if local businesses had online shopping options or better quality online shopping options. To work around this, some respondents look for local Etsy shops instead.

Honestly my time is so limited, more online options for local delivery or pick up would be great. I want to support local businesses but don’t always have time to go to an in person market.

10. The answers here were all unique. You can read through the PDF below for more details. The most common suggestions, though, were for better online shopping options, lower prices, clothing options, and accessibility.

11. Most holiday gift shopping is for children, significant others, parents, grandparents, siblings, and oneself.

Booze! Food! Crafts!

12. This question also got a very scattered response but the most common answers were toys and food.

13. These demographic questions are interesting but it should be noted that the responses mostly align with our social media following and not necessarily with Tacoma as a whole.

14. The last question on the survey asked people to suggest other local businesses that people should know about. Some are well known, others are not. Here they are in no particular order, as they were submitted:

Northwest Shop, Compass Rose, Chirp & Co., Bluebeard Coffee


Thrift City, St. Vinnies

PNW Shop

Compass Rose, Olympia Coffee Roasters, & ETC

TTown Shop in Proctor

Online Soap & Clay (was on 6th Ave)

Nest, Compass Rose, Lapis, Browne Tasting Room, Metropolitan Market, Tacoma Boys, Blitz Florist

Teaching Toys

Discovery Shop

Freight house square, Urbanxchange, locals, b&i

Hi Voltage Records – 6th Ave

The Cat & Rabbitt Bakery


Hi-Voltage Records & Books 6th Ave

Met Market, Proctor

Edison City Alehouse, 56th

Channing Baby, 1932 Pacific Ave

Lander Coffee 2716 N. 21st St 

Ooh La La Burgers, Stink, TTown, Pacific NW Shop, Linda’s Books, Little Jerry’s

StockList 1936 Pacific, Lincoln District Restaurants, Gift cards anywhere

Artist and Craftsman supply

The Ruston Shops, Ruston Farmers Market, Compass Rose, Tacoma Shop

Drop in the ocean (online), campfire coffee (1554 Market St #101), sound and circle (online), calendula farm (5111 36th Ave E), tacoma soap refillery (1108 N 6th St), next to nature (2339 Tacoma Ave S) 

The Fernseed

The Honey Quartz CO-OP inside freighthouse!

Mad Hat Tea Co

Ruston Mercantile 2503 6th Ave

The Lily Pad and Another Thyme

King’s Books, Tacoma Soap Refillery! 

Parable 3502 McKinley Ave! Central Co-op 4502 N Pearl St, Night Market (the Brunch Market has been fantastic!) location changes, Super Smash Video Games 5449 S Tacoma Way

South Tacoma antiques, H&L produce, 

Metropolitan Market in the Proctor District for delicious holiday foods and Ice Cream Social in the Proctor District for dessert. 

Crescent Moon Gifts 6901 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98406

Matrices Beauty, humble 

Adorned Abode, Stocklist Goods, Paper Luxe, Tease Chocolates, Next to Nature, TAM & MoG museum stores, Holiday pop-ups/maker markets, Jade & Co Succulents, A Drop in The Ocean 

Proctor district

Stocklist! on pac ave

Coxswain Press

Channing Baby Co downtown on pac Ave, Popup Kids off of Bridgeport in UP,  Paper Luxe, Crest Home, Curious Bear all together off of Mildred right outside of Fircrest/UP, Oakes and Alder in the north end, and Choppers pets in Fircrest! 

Check out Artco for amazing arts and crafts supplies! 5401 6th Ave.

Black Label Vintage for festive attire, 711 St Helens.

Compass Rose, Paper Luxe, Evolve Home

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