Shop Local | Your Guide to Supporting Small Businesses This Season

Shop Local | Your Guide to Supporting Small Businesses This Season

As the 2020 holiday season approaches, small businesses in your community need your support more than ever. In this post, we’ll share some of the reasons why shopping local is important and how you can show your support this season (with or without using your wallet).

But first, let’s take a short trip down memory lane.

 

Table of Contents

  1. Why ‘Shop Local’ and ‘Shop Small®’ Are Important
  2. How to Support Local Businesses
  3. Small Business Saturday

 

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Have you ever opened a lemonade stand?

If so, you may remember the steps involved with opening your stand. First, you had to gather a small group of friends or convince your siblings to help. Step two was to make eye-catching signs to get the attention of your neighbors and people passing by. Then, you and your team had to agree on a price per cup of lemonade. Once the lemonade was made and cups were set out, you started dreaming of the new bicycle you would buy with the profits.

When your first customer arrived, how did you feel? Perhaps excited, relieved, or even surprised that someone wanted to support your little stand. Maybe you struck up a conversation with them, asked how they heard about you, or encouraged them to, “Please, tell your friends!” If you’ve ever had a summer day like this, you’ve tasted a tiny sip of what it is like to be a small business owner.

Like a small business owner, when you ran that lemonade stand your top priority was to be profitable. After all, you sacrificed precious summer days to try and make some money for that new bike. But, big competition from companies like Minute Maid® and Simply Juices®, was everywhere and more convenient for your potential customers.

You had big dreams and high hopes for that stand, similar to a small business owner. However, unlike a small business owner, your childhood lemonade stand was probably not your livelihood.

This brings us to the first topic of this article – why it is important to support small businesses.

 

Why ‘Shop Local’ and ‘Shop Small®’ Are Important

Especially this time of year, the phrases ‘Shop Local’ and ‘Shop Small’ are everywhere. You see them in store windows, on social media, and even in ads on television. But, why is it important to ‘Shop Small’ and ‘Shop Local’? Here are five reasons:

  1. Small businesses have big impacts on their local economies. When you shop at your local small business instead of a big retailer, your dollars are directly invested back into your own community.

  2. Small businesses hire almost half of the country’s the workforce. According to a recent study from Fundera, small businesses employ 58.9 million people, which makes up 47.5% of the total employee workforce in the United States.

  3. Small businesses effect the social framework of a community. Areas with multiple brick-and-mortar shops and businesses help to preserve the character and charm of their neighborhood. Deliberately focusing on supporting these “Main Street” areas helps promote its appeal and can attract more shoppers to the community.

  4. Small businesses offer intimate shopping experiences. Large retailers may offer immersive shopping experiences, but they often can’t provide the intimate care and personalized attention that a small business owner can.

  5. Small businesses give back. Small business owners often support their communities by sponsoring sports teams, contributing to school fundraisers, volunteering with charities, and more.

At the end of the day, your local small business owners are also your neighbors. They could be the parent or grandparent of your child’s classmate. They might be the person you see walking their dog on your street every morning. Or maybe they’re the person you always come across at the grocery store on Saturdays. It’s important to support the small businesses in your area simply because they’re owned and operated by people in your community. When we give to them, they give back to us in ways we might not even realize.

Next, we’ll share some things you can do to support small businesses in your area this year, with or without using your wallet.

 

How to Support Local Businesses (With or Without Your Wallet)

As we approach the holiday season, many people are forming lists and planning their shopping outings. According to a recent article in Small Business Trends, “nearly 1 in 5 (19%) of consumers plan to purchase more from small local businesses this holiday season.”

Many shoppers like you recognize the challenges small businesses are facing in the wake of COVID-19 and are doing their best to help out. Don’t stop now!

The holiday shopping season is paramount for many small businesses, especially retail stores. Typically, holiday shoppers contribute to about 30% of the average retailer’s annual profits. Those dollars can absolutely make or break a business for the year.

Here are seven ways you can help the small businesses in your area hit their holiday goals, with or without contributing your own dollars:

1. Purchase gift cards. If your local small businesses offer gift cards, now is the time to stock up. Gift cards make great stocking stuffers and gifts, but you can also buy one with your own future purchases in mind. This is one of the best ways to support a small business today for a purchase you will make in the future.

2. Shop early.
If you can, start your holiday shopping early this year. Many people will be shopping online more than usual, which means stores and delivery services will be overwhelmed with orders. Shopping early can help ease this burden for small businesses who are working hard to fulfill and deliver orders on time.



3. Be patient. During this strange COVID holiday season, a little patience will go a long way. Tension and stress levels are high for many small businesses as they cope with supply chain issues, shipping delays, staff cuts, reduced operating hours, and many other unexpected changes. Practicing patience and kindness when an item is out of stock or your order is delayed are small ways to show businesses you care.


4. Leave reviews. Taking some time out of your day to leave reviews for your favorite local businesses can make a big difference. You can leave reviews for the business itself on Google or dive deeper and review some of your favorite products. According to Bright Local, 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses and are 270% more likely to purchase a product with 5 reviews than a product with 0 reviews. Your positive comments cost nothing and can help encourage others to support the business.


5. Seek unique gifts. If you’re stumped trying to find the perfect gift for someone, turn to your small business shop owners for help. Many small shops offer hand-crafted, unique items that you can’t find anywhere else. Just strolling through a shop may inspire you. If you’re still stumped, talk to the owner! Often small business owners are also the artists or know the artists that create these handmade items. Perhaps you’ll find they can make something custom, just for you.


6. Change up your shopping plan. Most holiday shoppers make their list of gifts first, figure out which store is going to sell those items, and then hit the road. If your primary goal is to shop local this year, try flipping the order. Start with a list of local businesses you want to support, and then figure out which person on your list would enjoy a gift from those stores. The shopping may take a bit more time, but your dollars will be invested right back into your community.


7. Reach out. It’s no secret that your favorite small businesses need your help right now. Even if you can’t support them with your purchases, it never hurts to reach out and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. And you never know what they might need. It could be as simple as someone to come and shovel snow off their front sidewalk or a thoughtful person to bake cookies for the employees who are working extra hours to complete orders. Your kindness can go a long way.

 

For more tips on how to help small businesses even after the holidays, click here.

 

Small Business Saturday® is November 28th

What better day to commit to supporting the small businesses in your neighborhood than Small Business Saturday?

This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 28th. Shop local on this day to take advantage of special holiday discounts, deals, and more. Need help finding a small business to support? Click here to use the American Express Shop Small® Map and find all the small shops, restaurants, and vendors near you!

 

We’d like to wish you and the small businesses you support the very best this holiday season. Visit our blog again soon for more articles and resources like these.

 

 

Sources: Well + Good, Small Business Trends, Shopify, American Express, Fundera, Bright Local