Shop small for the holidays! NerdWallet outlines five reasons why you should step into your local stores for gifts you can feel good about.
1. Small businesses provide unique gifts
Searching for the perfect Christmas gift can be difficult when you keep seeing the same products. No one wants to get someone a gift they’ve already received from someone else, or a gift they’ve seen every time they’ve entered a department store in the last month.
Beth Jarvah of The Cotton Company comments on the uniqueness of gifts found at small businesses. She says, “Part of the appeal for shopping small in stores is finding truly unique gifts for family and friends. Often times shoppers can find great deals on items that cannot be found in the massive chain stores and at the same time they can feel good about contributing to the stability of their own community. Shopping the wares of local potters and painters can produce the “wow factor” that a gift giver is looking for and have a lasting impact on the receiver as well.”
2. Small businesses have better, more personalized customer service than big stores
Shopping during the holidays can be difficult, requiring consumers to navigate crowded malls, find parking in packed lots and sort through picked-over merchandise. Additionally, good customer service is a rarity during the holidays because retail employees are often stretched thin and busy with other customers. Small businesses offer a more enjoyable shopping experience during the crowded holiday season.
Mohan Ramchandani, owner of Mohan’s Custom Tailors, says “Small businesses offer customers personalized service in a comfortable environment — even during the busy holiday season. While big box retailers are crowded and often uncomfortable during the holiday season, small businesses offer a quiet, relaxed environment for shopping.”
Sean Holland of Tyche’s Games agrees, describing the superior customer service that can be found at small businesses. He states, “What we offer at Tyche’s Games that you cannot get online is the ability to physically look at the games and books and a knowledgeable staff that can direct you to games that fit your style, price range and number of players. In some cases, we even have demonstration copies of the game and can show a customer what the game looks like and how it plays.”
3. Shopping at small businesses helps your community
Shopping at a small business helps provide jobs for your community, and it puts money into the local economy.
Logan Beam of All American Clothing advocates shopping at small businesses to help the local economy. He says, “Customers should go to local small businesses for their holiday shopping because these are the businesses that support local jobs and the local economy. We also support local mom and pop shops in our business chain as we go to them to do the prints on our tee shirts. By keeping our production in the USA we provide jobs and a tax base that supports our communities. We care about our country and the people in it; if we were only in it for money we would move our production overseas.
Because of our passion for creating American jobs, we have designed a technology system that shows our shoppers the American farmers and workers who were involved in making their jeans.”
4. Small businesses are often better for the environment
Shopping local is better for the environment because small businesses have lower shipping costs. Many large businesses take tolls on the environment by shipping in products from overseas factories, but small businesses often create their products using local resources.
Will Wagenaar, an artist and the owner of Reclaim2Fame, makes handmade recycled art. He advocates environmentally friendly products and describes his new holiday designs: “For the holidays in addition to our discount for the Thanksgiving weekend, we generated a new line of characters “The Little Ones”, smaller than others and at a lower cost. Some are featured on our new YouTube video.”
5. Small businesses support other small businesses
Many small businesses are supplied by other small businesses. Shopping at a small business is the gift that keeps on giving—they support each other, so by shopping at one, you are also supporting many others.
Maria Boustead, the owner of Po Campo, creates yoga mat carriers and bicycle bags from her own designs, but she also supports other small businesses by including their products as well. Maria says, “Po Campo has a variety of handbags that function as yoga mat carriers. We have also put together several gift sets for the yoga aficionado. These gift sets incorporate products from other small companies that are complementary to our brand.”
Jéneen R. Perkins of Éclat Enterprises concurs that small businesses often display a commitment to other small businesses. She states, “My small business participated in Small Business Saturday this year by promoting other small businesses. All throughout the year, I try to make connections between small businesses and other entrepreneurs to establish long lasting business relationships. This year, I made a Black Friday purchase with a local dance group that offers fitness dance classes.”
Sarah Rolleston, owner of Sugartooth Tours, also supports other small businesses through her own small business. She says, “All the bakeries and shops that we feature on our dessert tours are small businesses. This is one of the beauties of taking a Sugartooth Tour: not only are guests supporting my small business, but they are supporting a handful of other small businesses in the process. We love to give our guests background and interesting annecdotes about the bakeries we feature. This makes our guests feel a personal connection with each bakery and encourages them to come back and continue to support small business.”
For more independent retailers, check out NerdWallet Indie.
Gift photo from Shutterstock