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Supporting Small Business is the Best Gift You Can Give Your Community

| November 13, 2020

Shopping small makes a big difference. Here’s why.

It feels like the second Halloween ended, sneaky elves got to work stocking the shelves and lighting up the streets with all things Christmas. Ho, ho, wait — it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! It’s not surprising, and this year, I’m even more for putting up your holiday decorations whenever the hell you want to because we need all the joy we can get.

I live in small town America — about an hour from Atlanta, Georgia. The streets are lined with lights and holiday wreaths, and the store windows are already making that shift from all things pumpkin to all things merry and bright. In the month of November, my town is hosting Saturday Shop, Sip, and Stroll events to give businesses a boost for the upcoming holiday season.

Shopping small and supporting local businesses may be the best give you can give your community this holiday season. Here are 5 reasons why:

  • Small businesses (including gig workers and creators) may have suffered the most in 2020 with lockdown restrictions having a direct impact on finances. When you shop small, you’re not lining the coffers of a huge corporation or multimillionaire; you’re literally helping a family put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
  • Plus, when you spend your dollars locally, you contribute to your local community. If you’ve ever driven through a town where most of the businesses are shuttered, you’ll notice that the surrounding areas look just as neglected. To keep communities strong, we need strong local businesses where the money stays in the community rather than being sent out.
  • It’s environmentally friendly to shop local to avoid packaging and shipping. You’ll be doing those local businesses — and the environment — a favor.
  • Personal service paired with unique gift options might just be one of the best reasons to support local businesses. While anyone can order from Amazon or hit up the nearest big box store, small businesses usually offer a unique selection — often with handcrafted items from local artists. You’ll get friendly, personalized service along with a gift that will stand out.
  • It builds relationships. My favorite local coffee shop closed for good during the pandemic, but I absolutely loved walking in and greeting everyone — then happily accepting my favorite latte served up without even having to ask. It was special. Now, I’m cultivating those relationships in other small businesses.

Of course, the best thing you can do for your community is to make shopping small part of your lifestyle. Instead of just participating occasionally, consider how you can do more to frequent the businesses in your community. Eat at a local restaurant rather than choosing to dine at a restaurant chain. Instead of buying produce from a superstore, consider farmer’s markets and co-ops for fresh, seasonal produce. Bypass the chain coffee for a locally brewed cup. While most of us can’t afford to do this every day, we can still find ways to make small changes that have a big impact.

Some businesses won’t survive the economic devastation of this year — but every year, one in 12 small businesses will close. Thirty percent of businesses close by the third year. About half of businesses close after five years. To stay open in regular years can be a challenge, but Covid closures and restrictions increase the severity.

Small businesses must also change their mindset to one of safety — where masks, sanitizer, and social distancing are now inescapable facts to give customers a safe place to shop rather than an option that leaves it up to individual consumers to show consideration for others. Curbside pickup and online ordering options can also help make shopping local both safe and easy for both consumers as well as retail staff.

But shopping small isn’t all about just frequenting locally owned businesses in town. We need to broaden our definition to include artists, authors, and other creatives. Etsy offers an online marketplace to support local businesses from the comfort of your home. From handmade items to custom clothing to art or home décor, there’s a gift to fit anyone on our holiday list. Artists, authors, and even bakers give us plenty of options to make our gifts as thoughtful and personalized as we desire.

It’s easy to hit up the big box store or endlessly click Add to Cart on Amazon or through other major retailers. With massive choices, big discounts, and alluring offers of free shipping, it can be easy and affordable to shop this way. Supporting our communities may cost a little more and be a little less convenient at times, but being a more conscious and community-minded consumer builds relationships and helps our communities prosper — even if we just occasionally sub out the big box store for a trip to a local shop or take a hard pass on the chain restaurant to hit up an independent one instead.

It’s tough to be a small business owner in a struggling economy. Of course, it’s tough to be a small business owner in any economy. By showing support and shopping small, we do more to recover our economy than if we keep giving Amazon and other large businesses our dollars to the detriment of small business. This year, let’s say Happy Holidays to our community by showing how shopping small can unite us all.

This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial or legal advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions

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