It's always been part of American culture for family or individually-owned businesses to be part of the local landscape. In many instances, these locally-owned and controlled businesses become part of the local culture and lore.
In recent times, these small businesses have taken a hit from mega-corporations such as Walmart. Independent grocers and merchants who weren't able to compete with the prices and selection of the likes of Walmart, Target and others closed their doors for the last time since the 1980s.
Some independent small businesses were able to remain competitive, offering services the big chains couldn't match. Unfortunately for many people, service-oriented businesses just didn't have the same impact on dwindling budgets as the chain stores could offer.
Living as I do near many small towns, I have access to many locally-owned and run small businesses. Admittedly, I don't make large shopping trips to the local businesses--my budget doesn't allow that. But the convenience of being able to drive just down the road for a loaf of bread or gallon of milk is something I enjoy.
Granted, many times I am paying more for those items than I would at a chain store, but I've saved gas (and we all know how expensive that is), time and supported local merchants in doing so.
It's a great feeling to walk into a business and know the clerks by name--and they know you, too. You have a chance to develop relationships with local people, not just the clerks but the other customers who frequent these businesses. You'll find that the locally-owned businesses have a following of loyal customers.
By supporting local businesses, you are supporting your community and your neighbors. I'll wager you'll also find something in it for yourself. Try it and see.