This year, I took on the Business.org challenge of shopping holiday gifts via small, local businesses. Supporting local, small businesses is something that I have come to do more and more, as I firmly believe in the adage “you vote with your dollars.” By supporting small businesses, as opposed to big-box stores, we are contributing to our community, the local economy, and actual people’s dreams and passions. There is something to be said about the joy of supporting real people’s businesses . . . so I was happy to take on this challenge!
When thinking of shopping local for the holidays and, well, every day really, it’s great to think about the things that small businesses offer that corporate stores do not. A local bookstore or fashionable boutique can really bring a strong customer service game because they are staffing the store with passionate, knowledgeable individuals who can give special attention to each customer. The experience can feel more intimate that way.
In addition to the customer service, you may find that items in each location are highly curated, special pieces that you might not find in big-box stores. While shopping myself this holiday season, I noticed that employees were more than willing to give advice and help find the perfect gift for loved ones. That’s just not always going to be the case in big-box stores.
Shop owners often bring in small, local makers so shopping through those boutiques is not just supporting that business, but it’s also supporting other small-business owners. Handmade soaps, jewelry, foods, and homegoods are items that you can easily find at local shops, markets, and fairs. It’s like your dollar is working in a couple different ways. It’s a beautiful thing really.
Realistically, it’s probably not so easy to do all your shopping with small and local businesses. Simply put, you just might not be able to find what you need. My best advice for this is to do your level best to do the majority of your shopping in surrounding towns. Find local farms to join CSA, family-owned delis, and local grocery chains for food. Create habits by considering the things that you need or want and finding them locally.
Need a new pot or pan? Find a small kitchen supply store. Want to snag a bouquet of flowers for a friend? Go to a florist rather than a chain supermarket. I think that it’s important to realize that it’s not possible to shop small 100% of the time, unless you put in a lot of work. Start small and give yourself grace when trying to shop small and with business owners in your community. You’re doing great by doing your best!
Personally, as a busy mother of two, sometimes it is just easier to go to a box store that has groceries, diapers, a birthday present, and underwear all in one swoop. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t shop for convenience once in a while. But I have found that with some flexibility, I can be more creative and find things locally.
For kid’s birthday presents, rather than buying at a box store, I have started supporting the local, family-owned movie theater, buying tickets as gifts. The kids all live in the same town, right? It works! Of course, if you need something very specific, it may be difficult to shop small, especially if you have to order online just to find it. Again, I have found that if I am doing my best to shop with local business owners, the conscious effort is what it takes to make a difference.
In the end, I was able to do most of my holiday shopping at local businesses because I allowed myself to be flexible and less worried about getting the exact item, and I tried to not let budget deter me from getting something, even if it was a couple more dollars than I would spend at a chain store.
I really found the shopping experience to be more enjoyable this year. Small shops and businesses give you the care and consciousness that I look for when finding the right type of gift. I took this challenge on for the holiday season but encourage you to join me in creating the space for shopping small in our everyday lives!