How to Support Small Business This Holiday Season
As someone who grew up in a small valley town in Connecticut, small business is truly at the center of everything I do. Sure, I have an Amazon Prime account and I order from places like Target more than I'd like to admit... but my favorite businesses? The ones that I talk about 24/7 and have purchased some of my all-time favorite items and gifts from? Those are always small, local artisans whose businesses directly support my community.
According to research from the Small Business Association's Office of Advocacy, there were 30.7 million small businesses in 2016. Not only are small businesses a massive chunk of the economy, they are also a key aspect of job growth. From 2000 to 2018, small businesses created 9.6 million net new jobs while large businesses created 5.2 million (US Dept of Labor).
Plus, one of the biggest and most mind-blowing stats there are... "for every $100 you spend at local businesses, $68 will stay in the community."
That's why small businesses are, and will continue to be, the backbone of your community.
So, when it comes to the holiday season, what can you do to make sure you are spending your money with small businesses this year?
It can be tempting to take advantage of those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals from the big box stores or internet giants but it's important to support your community when you can.
Here are some tips for how you can support small businesses this holiday:
1. Shop Small
This one may seem like a no-brainer. While local businesses often can't match the low prices of big-box stores, you are more likely to find unique and custom-made gifts here.
When you buy something from a large retailer, you never know where your money is going. Want to know where your money goes when you spend it at a small business? Just ask! I was once chatting with Matt, the owner of Giuseppe's Italian Pizzeria in my hometown, and he mentioned that his son had an upcoming soccer game in Massachusetts. That's where my money went every time I ordered a pizza or fries at Giuseppe's; it helped Matt put his son in soccer lessons, drive him to other New England states to compete, and buy him presents during this holiday season. I could physically see where my money was going and that's a feeling like no other.
2. Leave a positive review
The power of a review cannot be overstated. How many times have you looked for somewhere to eat or shop, seen a couple of bad reviews, and changed your mind? As consumers, we tend to flock toward places that have good word-of-mouth, even if it's not coming from someone we know personally. By taking the time to leave a positive review for your favorite small businesses, you can plant the seed for future success. Plus, this tip is completely free and takes only a couple of minutes. After all, supporting small businesses doesn't have to feel like you're breaking the bank.
Here are a few reviews I've left for small businesses that I particularly love:
(Check out that picture I posted for BlackBird Cafe… 81k views and counting! This is just an example of how many people your reviews can reach and, as a result, impact buying decisions.)
3. Post a photo on your social media accounts
Sometimes, I go into a store and realize that they aren't for me. For example, I don't have kids. This means that most stores that sell children's toys or clothing aren't really a place I would typically spend my money. However, I have absolutely taken pictures in/of stores like this and shared them online, knowing that some of my friends, family, and followers may be interested. This takes me just a matter of seconds and, in turn, I become someone who wasn't in the store's target demographic originally but has become a megaphone for their business.
4. Tell a friend about an awesome SMB
According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising.
Word-of-mouth costs you exactly $0 and can make all the difference when it comes to a small business' success. Did you visit a local grocer recently that had amazing produce? Stumble upon a great new café down the street from your house? Find a one-of-a-kind product at a boutique shop? Tell someone! They'll likely love the place just as much as you and that small business owner will appreciate the new business.
5. Say thank you
Running a small business is no simple feat. Most business owners are wearing more hats than they can count and their business cards should really say, "Business owner a.k.a. marketing manager, sales representative, head of HR, procurement specialist, retail manager, website developer…" the list goes on and on.
Take a second to thank them for choosing to serve your community and congratulate them for their success. Most SMB owners that I know are particularly humble and quick to brush off accomplishments, but what they do really is important! If you can, purchase a small gift card (preferably to another local small business!) to gift them this holiday season and show how much you care.
6. Do your other business locally, too
This one can sometimes fall through the cracks. When it comes to supporting small businesses in your community, that doesn't just mean buying products from your local retail store. You can also support small businesses such as local banks and credit unions, restaurants, and service businesses as well.
One particularly important thing you can do is support your local farmers. Shopping with local grocers or at farmers markets has many advantages, including but not limited to: better food quality, sustainable practices, eating within the season, trying new things, and getting to know your local farmers face-to-face. Depending on where you live, this may be hard to do around the winter holidays. However, this is a tip that would serve you well year-round!
Supporting small businesses doesn't have to be a seasonal decision.
Use these tips to support local, small businesses every day of the year. While Small Business Saturday and #GivingTuesday (for the nonprofit folks out there) are vital to an organizations success, your support can make every day feel like it's Small Business Saturday!
What are some ways you support small businesses? Tweet me @AshleyPerssico and let me know.
P.S. Do you live in New England? Here are some of my favorite small businesses to check out:
Giuseppe's Italian Pizzeria in Naugatuck
Jen Snow at His and Hers Salon in Waterbury
Piece Time Puzzles in Northwood
The Skinny Pancake in Stowe
Stowe Bowl in Stowe
Tempest Book Shop in Waitsfield
Green Goddess Café in Stowe
Laughing Moon Chocolates in Stowe
Snowfield Woodworking in Morrisville
Salt & Light Cafe Bistro in Groton
Bayberry Cafe in Woburn
Revitalive in Andover
Blackbird Cafe in Groton, Acton, and Burlington
La Provence in Rockport
Town Market in Andover
Rizzo's in Wilmington
Wamesit Lanes in Tewksbury
No Problemo in New Bedford
OTTO Pizza in Portland
Geddy's in Bar Harbor
McKays Public House in Bar Harbor