Big box stores and e-commerce retailers may dominate the advertising space during the holidays, but small businesses and local artisans provide unique, quality gifts that promote sustainability and local economic growth. Here are a few simple ways to support your local business economy this holiday.
Why shopping locally matters
By shopping locally during the holiday season, you can support your community in more ways than one.
More money stays within the community. A 2018 Small Business Economic Impact Study by American Express found that 67% of each dollar spent at a local business stayed within the community. Of that amount, 23% gets reinvested back into other local businesses.
Local governments receive more tax revenue. More tax revenue means better public services like schools, transportation and emergency response.
Shopping local reduces your environmental impact. Choosing local helps reduce negative effects from manufacturing and transportation of goods.
Your local purchases create an indirect impact on the community, as well. Small businesses give back by donating to local charities and sponsoring youth activities. They also provide your family and neighbors with employment opportunities. The American Express study found that for every ten jobs at a small business, another seven are supported elsewhere in the community.
When you shop local, you invest in your community and your neighbors.
How to shop within your zip code
Support small businesses in your area by buying your gifts locally. Instead of taking a road trip or knocking out your list online, visit the stores that are in your own backyard first. Many small businesses will offer holiday discounts comparable to big stores, but you’ll likely receive better customer service and a more personalized shopping experience.
Spend time learning about local businesses
If you don’t know what your area has to offer, put on your walking shoes and explore your town. Small businesses are usually gathered in a centrally located shopping center or downtown area — making it easy to park and walk to different stores.
You can also check your local Chamber of Commerce for a map or shopping guide that lists the products or services offered at each store.
Use a local print shop for holiday cards
Consider using your local print shop for high-quality holiday cards to send to your friends and family. They may be able to match or offer better pricing than big printing brands online. Plus, they can help you personalize your cards, so they really stand out instead of just winging it on your own.
Buy books from an independent bookstore
Choose to buy books from a local, independent bookstore instead of ordering them online from Amazon or from a big bookstore like Barnes & Noble. There’s a chance they may cost a couple of dollars more locally, but you’ll be directly supporting a small business owner with your purchase.
Include a small cushion in your holiday budget that is specifically for shopping local. That way those few extra dollars here and there won’t make such a difference in your decision-making process, but they will certainly make a lasting difference in your community.
Make holiday meals from local ingredients
Locally sourced foods are fresher and directly support local farmers. When you’re planning for your holiday meals, consider skipping mega-stores like Walmart.
Instead, pick up seasonal fruits and vegetables at your community’s farmers’ market or stop by your local grocery store for fresh ingredients. If you have questions about a specific ingredient, you can talk directly with the person who grew it or sourced it locally.
Buy from vendors at holiday festivals
Take advantage of community events near you. During this time of the year, many cities, churches, schools and other organizations put on holiday festivals for the general public. These holiday festivities usually include vendor booths. This gives you a chance to discover a local artisan you might not have been aware of otherwise.
Holiday vendor booths are a great place to find one-of-a-kind stocking stuffers and gifts. For example, if you’re already planning on buying candles for your co-workers, you can likely find a local artisan booth instead of going the chain-store route. You can gift custom scented candles, while directly contributing to a mother who is supporting her family through her small business or just trying to make extra money for the holidays herself.
Purchase from small businesses online
If your nearby options are limited, you can still support small business entrepreneurs by purchasing from them online. Check out creative market platforms like Etsy to locate tons of unique, hand-crafted items. Or use discovery platforms like Instagram or Pinterest to find new artisans within your interests.
Your choice to shop locally and support small business owners during the holidays will boost your local economy and build a thriving community.