by Kelly Daniel
“The Small Business Administration identified that there are more than 28.2 million businesses operating in the U.S. as of March 2014. Of these 28.2 million businesses, most are “self-employed” – making up about 3/4 of the U.S.’s total businesses. Meanwhile, approximately half of small businesses survive five years or more.” –Forbes
I’m like many of you out there and have participated in my fair share of Black Friday shopping. Waking up at ungodly hours just to wander in a haze of fellow shoppers eager to get my hands on that hot-ticket item that I probably don’t need – but’s it’s on sale, right?! Although looking back I can at least say I’ve had the experience, it was fun to go out with friends just to see what kind of deal I could get. I just don’t miss those 4am wake-up calls, standing in the cold (or sometimes rain), and the mean people. Oh, I don’t miss them.
Over the years since those days I’ve adopted my husband’s sense of minimalism. This new way of relating to material things has really helped me 1) live a more Christ-centered life by ‘not taking up treasures’ of this earth, and 2) helped me recognize what I need over what I want. Our home is always fluid in this respect due to the holidays (there’s no stopping my decorating) and simply having a baby in a one bedroom apartment. So although we find purpose to the things we bring into our home, it’s important for us to also be conscious about where we purchase from.
Holiday shopping is officially upon us and even if you skip the craziness that is Black Friday, I urge all of you to contemplate shopping small business not just on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but to make it a habit all throughout the year. Here’s why…
Do you like knowing where your tax dollars are going? I do. When you shop locally at small businesses your tax dollars go right back into the community it serves. This money goes towards public services such as schools and libraries, but also programs that support local causes – for Ventura it’s battling homelessness and substance abuse. These funds help support communities so why not give back to communities you love?
Also, local businesses often give back to the communities in which they serve. Coffee shops and bars around Ventura always host local artists or musicians to play, seasonal events are held downtown which boosts tourism, and businesses partner with the community for special causes or local youth programs.
Supporting the Local Economy
We are well aware that our economy is a huge topic of discussion on a national level. But, by shopping small business you’re doing your part to boost your local economy which helps provide more jobs. With more jobs you’ll be supporting the bigger picture state-wide and across the U.S. Having more jobs available fuels the systems that keep your tax dollars local and community thriving.
Another aspect to this is that many small businesses outsource locally for their products. In Ventura, local restaurants partner with the farmers for fresh produce and vegetables or retailers often sell products made by local creatives or at the very least made in the U.S.A. I love shopping downtown because I know where my purchases are coming from and what they’ll be benefiting well after I leave.
Supporting Business and Product Diversity
Not only by shopping small will you be supporting business diversity in town, but you’re also supporting the sale of unique products. Yes, it’s easy to run to department stores and purchase those mass-produced toys or home goods, but where’s the fun in that? I love giving unique, but purposeful, gifts because they tell the person receiving them that you put thought and consideration into what you’re giving. It’s more meaningful that way – otherwise you may well have just given them a gift card (which is okay, too).
But it doesn’t stop at gift giving. I love bringing unique items to bless our home with because it was either handmade or created with care – not some machine pumping it out. Home decor is one of my favorite hobbies and I get so excited when I’m able to find that unique piece that adds just the perfect touch to any room.
In 2010 American Express launched their very first Small Business Saturday, which aimed to connect people with their local businesses. A year later SBS became a nationally recognized day that is nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (for all you online shoppers). According to American Express, 2014 projected that about $14 billion dollars were spent at local businesses on SBS and last year alone 95 million people made the decision to shop small. Wow.
I love Ventura because of the variety in small businesses to choose from! This is a snapshot of all the local businesses who are participating in SBS on November 26, 2016! There will be special SBS festivities in downtown Ventura from 11:00am – 5:00pm. If you visit the American Express website you’ll be able to locate small businesses in your own community who will also be participating this year.
Pay with Cash or Debit if Possible
It’s amazing work American Express is doing to create awareness and accessibility of SBS, but one cannot deny their stake in the day as well. Most credit card companies benefit from your purchases and even incentivize your shopping with cash back or points for every dollar spent. AMEX is offering their cardholders 2x the rewards (but you have to enroll your card ahead of time) up through the end of December for small business purchases. However, be mindful that credit card companies, and even AMEX take from local businesses in the process through transaction fees of at least 3%. I only ask that you consider that it’s equally important to know where your money goes when shopping small.
How can you shop & support small business all year long and for the holidays?
- Consider farmers markets for seasonal fruits and veggies
- Fill prescriptions at mom & pop pharmacies
- Eat and socialize at local restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, and coffee shops
- Shop for clothing at local boutiques or retailers
- Purchase gift cards or certificates for local services like massages, nail salons, or hair studios
- Shop Etsy versus major chains
- Support local business by writing Yelp reviews or contacting the owners directly
- Purchase local merchandise of your favorite spots around town (be a walking billboard)
These are all little, but easy ways, you can support not only your community but your local business owners. This holiday season I challenge you all to make one or two of these changes in your shopping habits whether it be for yourself or a gift to another.
This article originally appeared on theprimarilyinspired.com.