In efforts to continue to keep this space open as a forum for change, we want to focus on how you can positively affect your community and small businesses this holiday season.
Regardless if you celebrate or don’t celebrate any particular holiday, end-of-year gift giving always seems to pick up. The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect back and thank the important people in your life.
This infamous year, when many people’s finances may be in a state of uncertainty or gatherings have been cancelled, the act of giving may take on a larger meaning in the form of giving back to one’s community.
Supporting small and independently owned businesses can have a positive impact on the surrounding community and your money will go farther than if you spend that same money at a larger corporation.
How to Shop Local This Holiday Season
A little extra work can go a long way in seeking out small and independent businesses to support. Sure, it’s always easy to jump to a big box retailer as a One-Stop-Shop; but during this time in history, where looking out for one’s fellow human being can bring about a larger impact, it’s worth the time it takes to put a little bit of thought and intention behind holiday gift giving.
Places to Shop
- Take the time to make a Google search for locally owned businesses.
- The Nextdoor app is also a good place to seek local services, such as yard work, pet sitting, or auto body shops.
- Bookshop.org is a great place to support independent bookstores for all your holiday reading needs.
- Check Etsy or Instagram for artists who are promoting some amazing work. Items range from mugs to knitted items, jewelry, paintings, prints, sculptures, you name it. Take this opportunity to change up your living space with some new art by these exciting artists.
Other Ways to Help
In this age of social currency, if you enjoyed a service or an item from a small business, shout it from your digital rooftops! Most of the time, an independent business will have a social media presence. Take a picture, tag the business, leave a great review. Social media engagement helps.
Don’t forget that restaurants and independent performing arts venues are also businesses that are struggling right now. Purchasing a gift card or looking into what other services or products these places might offer is a great way to show support. Restaurants and venues may be offering items for sale, such as masks, tshirts, and original art to raise money to stay afloat.
Small and Independently Owned Businesses
The Small Business Administration defines such a venture as “one which is independently owned and operated and which is not dominant in its field of operation... has annual receipts not in excess of $750,000.”
Impact on Local Economies
According to a study by Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development, small and independent businesses impact local communities in a positive manner by creating jobs. Many Americans work for small or independent businesses, and these businesses create more opportunities for residents specific to that community. According to the Michigan State study, small or independent businesses have accounted for more than 5.1 million jobs which have been added to our economy since 2003.
When money is spent at small businesses, the money stays in the community and is extended to improvements in public infrastructure such as public libraries and schools. Four different funnels for how money stays in the community include: wages and benefits paid to local residents, profits earned by the small business, purchase of local goods and services for local use, and a contribution by the small business to local nonprofits.
According to Entrepreneur, on average, for every $100 spent at a small business, $68 stays within the community, as opposed to only $43 when shopping at a chain retailer. Small businesses also account for more charitable contributions towards local organizations. According to the Michigan State study, for every one million dollars in sales, a small business contributes $4000 as opposed to $1000 from a well-known, large retail chain.
At the end of the day, shopping in your local community can provide more economic impact for your neighbors than purchasing that large tin of popcorn. Sure, it’s nice to have the option between cheesy, caramel, and regular popcorn all at once, especially around the holidays, but wouldn’t it be nice to shop local and put your money towards uplifting the community as a whole? Not only would that improve the outlook for the small business owner, but in the long run, the positive impact will come back around to you, as you have now contributed to a thriving community.
Creating Stronger Communities
Not only does supporting small businesses have a positive financial impact on the larger community, but the presence, survival, and ability to thrive also adds to the character and culture of a community. Studies across the board have shown superior customer service at local retailers, as well as marketing and strategies tailored to the specific community that doesn’t have to be beholden to a general, national marketing strategy of a national brand.
The stronger a local community is, the more it can attract other entrepreneurs. The Small Business Association of Michigan supports “economic gardening.” This means creating a community in which individuals are encouraged to start their own businesses positioned for growth - or to support existing businesses.
Attracting new talent and professionals is always a goal of communities who wish to stay economically healthy and thriving. By taking this holiday season to nurture the seeds of small business within your community, you can take steps to curating a thriving and vibrant economy, which, in the long run is vital to the health of the larger picture.