How to Support Small Businesses This Holiday Season

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September 27, 2021
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Cyber Monday and Huge Black Friday blowout sales can be difficult for small, locally-owned retailers to match. But supporting small businesses doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. Even shifting a tiny percentage of your holiday shopping from big-box stores to mom-and-pop shops can have a big impact.

When you buy local, your money does much more for your community than it does when you shop at national chains. 

Three times more money returns to the local economy when you shop locally, while eating at locally-owned restaurants brings in two times more money, according to a series of independent-business impact studies conducted by Civic Economics, a consulting firm for local businesses.

Think local first

You’re not going to be able to buy a hundred percent local every time,” says Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand, an organization that provides free marketing support to thousands of small businesses across the country. But if you shift 20 or even 10 percent of your shopping to local, you’re going to make a significant impact on that business.

Independent We Stand’s Locals Only search engines can help you find retailers in your area. The American Independent Business Alliance also shares information on where to find local businesses across the country. 

Your local chamber of commerce’s website might also be a useful resource since these groups generally keep lists of local small enterprises.

Engage with small businesses on social media

Each time you post about a local business or share its posts, you’re helping to bolster its social media presence, which can lead to more followers, likes, shares, and—most important—sales for that company. 

“There’s very little organic growth on Facebook,” Brunelle says. “You often have to buy your engagement, and money’s been really tight during the pandemic.”

Review your experience

“Reviews are extremely important, but we’re not asking people to just give a good review because [the business] is locally owned,” Brunelle says, adding that folks should leave positive reviews only if they’ve received great service. “Give them a shout-out. Now’s the time that they need it—I know things are opening up, but there’s still a lot of businesses hurting out there.

Shop through platforms that connect you with small businesses

Whether you’re looking for handmade jewelry, new artwork, or decorative pottery, Etsy is a great place to buy directly from creators. Storenvy, which specializes in small independent brands, is another marketplace that allows shoppers to buy anything from jewelry to electronics directly from local sellers. 

The bookshop provides a convenient method to shop for books while also directly helping independent businesses.

Use your credit card

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 and sometimes offers rewards to its credit cardholders as an incentive for them to shop small; the company has also provided cardholders with a handy searchable small-business map. 

This holiday season, Amex is incentivizing cardholders to shop small from Black-owned businesses by offering a one-time $15 credit to those who spend a minimum of $20 online at the Shop Small x ByBlack Amex holiday curation through Dec. 31. 

Before you go shopping, be sure you enroll your card so you don’t lose out on any discounts. Check to see whether your credit card company offers something comparable. Keep in mind that Amex’s merchant fees are frequently greater than those charged by other credit cards.

Attend events hosted in your neighborhood

Farmer’s markets, street fairs, and fundraising events all offer the opportunity to connect with local vendors and learn more about the businesses in your area. Many businesses also hold events of their own. 

For instance, some local bookstores host book readings and workshops, while many neighborhood coffee shops host open-mic nights.

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