6 reasons to shop small this holiday season

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Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is one of my favorite days of the year—Small Business Saturday, a nationally recognized holiday held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Originally conceived and promoted by American Express back in 2010, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to support local brick-and-mortar businesses rather than big box brands or online-only chain stores.

Marketed as a chance to “shop small,” Small Business Saturday encouraged more than 88 million people to get out and support the local business owners in their community in 2015.

What exactly are the benefits of shopping small? Why should you do it on Small Business Saturday? Better yet, why should you consider supporting small businesses every day?

Because small businesses are a big deal.

Whether you participated in Small Business Saturday or not, here are six reasons why you should look to take your shopping local this holiday season and long after it’s gone:

Small business gives more to your community

Fun fact: When you support a local business, you also are supporting your neighborhood.

It’s true! Businesses pay sales taxes to the city and county in which their business is located in.

The same cannot be said when you buy from a big box retailer—that money isn’t benefiting your community at all.

In addition, the tax money acquired from a local business is used to support public schools, parks, roads, and sidewalks, as well as fund public service workers, like firefighters and first responders.

Not convinced? Per Civic Economics, “on average, 48% of each purchase at local independent businesses is recirculated locally, compared to less than 14% of purchases at chain stores.”

The ways small businesses give back to the community don’t stop there. NFIB research shows that more than 90 percent of small business owners contribute each year to their communities through volunteering, in-kind contributions, and/or direct cash donations.

That means your purchase of a good or service at a small business is a great way to pay it forward.

It’s good to be part of the American Dream

Small business owners are the embodiment of the American Dream.

Your local coffee shop, hair salons, corner stores, clothing boutiques, restaurants, craft stores, bike shops, gift shops, and more—they all exist because their founder had a dream to make some aspect of everyday life better. Your everyday life.

When you support them, you’re supporting that dream. And that’s a good thing.

The same feeling cannot be achieved by shopping at a nation-wide department store.

The customer service is better

As harsh as it sounds, small business owners strive to survive.

One of the biggest advantages they have over large retailers is the ability to provide more personable, hands-on, and memorable customer service.

When you shop at a small business, chances are you’ll be waited on by the owner, a member of the owner’s family, or someone who reports directly to the owner. This proximity to the boss—and pride in their role in the local community—makes for better customer service.

This can be hard to find at chain stores.

Small businesses make a major economic impact 

There is nothing small about small businesses’ impact on the economy—especially local jobs.

Shopping small creates and supports local jobs. Each time you purchase a product or a service in your neighborhood, you are helping to pay the salary of a friend or neighbor.

In fact, per the Small Business Association (SBA), two-thirds of the new jobs in the United States were created by small businesses.

That’s significant. Especially when you consider that since 1990, big businesses eliminated four million jobs, while small businesses have added more than eight million.

The more you shop at a local store, the more potential job opportunities you are helping provide.

Small businesses also are responsible for more than half of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There’s nothing small about that.

Greater access to product diversity

Let’s be honest, sometimes it can be hard to make decisions.

If you’re like me, you’d rather have limited options. Like, for instance, choosing between a handful of dresses or journals instead of aisle after aisle full of them.

What you may not realize, is that your local small business retailers have done some of the product narrowing legwork for you.

By offering a select inventory aimed at matching exactly what you’re looking for in terms of quality and value, small businesses make it easier to make purchasing decisions.

Plus, small businesses have just as much access to vendors that big box businesses do. If a small business doesn’t have the products you want or need, you can ask them. Small businesses are typically much more receptive and willing to order them for you.

And, because it’s the vendors mentioned above who set all the pricing for products, not the stores themselves, you’re not paying more for shopping small or local.

Supporting small business creates a sense of community 

As noted in Forbes, the second most popular desire among urbanites is a stronger sense of community. The desire for more local restaurants was number one.

By shopping small, you’re much more likely to get to know a small business owner in your neighborhood. Getting to know even one small business owner in your neighborhood jumpstarts your sense of community.

Would you rather feel a pang of guilt buying lackluster coffee from Starbucks or a lifeless burger at McDonalds? Or, would you prefer to be satisfied with your latte made with love from Communal Coffee, and a melt-in-your-mouth delicious burger from Rocky's Crown Pub?

Trust me on this, you will definitely live a more fulfilled life supporting the later options.

Do you plan to shop small for all your holiday needs this year?

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