It’s that time of year again – the busy holiday season is on its way. Unlike some of my more enthusiastic friends who already have their shopping finished (and presents wrapped!), most of us have yet to begin. As you gear up to spend your hard earned dollars on family and friends, take a minute to think about where you’re shopping and how what you buy can have further reaching impact than just to the gift’s recipient.
While Amazon, Zappos and other online marketplaces can help you finish your shopping at the last minute, with proper planning it can be advantageous to shop locally, and shop small. Shopping at your local small business does a lot for your community. Concerned that small businesses have higher prices? That’s a misconception by many, but rest assured that vendors, not stores, tend to set prices. (That’s what a Manufactured Suggested Retail Price – MSRP – does.)
I believe that supporting small businesses is beneficial in many ways. Here are a few:
1) Local Jobs – Do you love the town you live in? Then help it survive by supporting local businesses that employ people in your town or area. Local small businesses often offer great job environments and benefits.
For example, small businesses can provide attractive work/life balance for families in bedroom communities – parents don’t have to take all that commute time away from family time. Think: flexibility, commute, wages, etc.
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2) Unique Gifts – Small businesses tend to carry interesting, locally inspired items not easily found on every corner of urban America. Because they have flexibility in what they carry, they are likely to mix up stock and try different items more often.
3) Support of Local Artisans – Many of those interesting gifts often come from the same community through its local artisans. While they may have to jump through red tape and hoops in other retailers, smaller local businesses are often able to support artisans more easily by carrying their items – even if for a limited time. It’s a great way to discover the talent in your community and give a unique gift at the same time.
4) Community Support and Revenue – Local small businesses are also likely to support events and initiatives happening in their local economy; pumping dollars back into the community. This happens not only through employing local staff, but through contributions of space, resources, money to local charities, schools and more.
5) Encouraging Entrepreneurship – Most small business owners are in fact tenacious entrepreneurs, facing obstacles and winning over numerous odds. They can not only employ others in your community looking for jobs closer to home, but they can inspire the next generation to learn about entrepreneurship and create their own dreams of business ownership.
6) Real Customer Care. Small business owners have always known that taking care of their customers is the utmost priority.
From the local hardware store, “Five and Dime” or grocery store, small business owners have traditionally gone the extra mile, often calling customers by name and giving friendly discounts when needed.
While we may no longer live in the “It’s A Wonderful Life” era, small businesses typically provide a special touch to differentiate themselves from global competition. You’ll find yourself feeling more like a person whose business is noticed and appreciated (and less like a number) when you shop at a small business.
The bottom line is that while larger retailers offer certain advantages and will always fill a niche, you really can’t go wrong shopping local and shopping small, in addition to making your more regular purchases. For the holiays, you may have to plan ahead in order to get everything purchased and wrapped (and sent/delivered) on time, but the extra thought is worth it. Try shopping your local small business this holiday season, and you’ll find yourself in the spirit more than ever.