Want to improve your community? Shop in your community. Shop small.
For every $100 spent at locally owned businesses, $68 stays in the community while $43 of $100 spent at a national chain stays in the community (source). Shopping at a locally owned business is an economic stimulus package that you control – and one that works.
Since 2010, the Saturday after Black Friday has been known as Small Business Saturday and has used “shop small” to denote the day. This weekend is one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year and officially kicks off the holiday shopping season.
Small Business Saturday was started by American Express, as somewhat as a marketing initiative to support local businesses and spur the use of their small business services. The day, however, holds a whole lot of more importance and is much more than a good marketing idea. Its a good idea to follow everyday when you pull out your wallet.
Rather than heading to the big box stores, you should consider staying as local as possible for your shopping. Even better, seek out local craftsmen and artisans to shop small.
What do you care about in your community? Show it with your monetary support!
Gift Giving – More Than Just Buying Stuff
When I buy presents, I want to give my friends and family something that is unique and tailored to them. Anyone can buy clothing or electrics. Furthermore, I think people would rather shop for standard everyday items for themselves than get something that wasn’t exactly what they wanted.
Let your friends and family pick out and buy for themselves their favorite colored shirt or new camera. When they buy it, it will be just right and they’ll end up using it more. An unused gift is a waste, leads to clutter, and is ill-guided consumerism.
I try to get people something that they didn’t know they would enjoy. A locally made piece of art forged from an old railroad tie. Custom straight razor strop embossed with their initials. A set of locally made drink coasters crafted from used bourbon barrel stays. I want to give a gift that has a bit of my personality mixed with theirs. Green. Manly. Or ideally both.
Buying Local Is Good For The Environment
Goods produced locally remove the need for excess protective packaging needed for shipping and cut out the impacts of transportation. Additionally, you can achieve a level of transparency that is nearly impossible from products bought at big box stores.
Knowing the person who made or sold your gift allows you to ask any and all questions. Where did the materials come from? How was it made? Did you use harmful chemicals? What waste was produce and how was it handled? For many, these questions might make you feel prying and seem like a crazy environmentalist. There are worse things – like turning a blind eye to harmful and destructive practices that hurt the environment and disenfranchise communities both locally and abroad.
Give Something Special, Give Something Local. Shop Small.
Is it just me or is not special to be able to connect a name, a face, and a story to a gift?
Which sounds better:
“I’m glad you like the pen, Jon. I know you love to write and when I saw it at Staples, I knew I had to get it for you.”
– OR –
“I’m glad you like the pen, Jon. I know you love to write and I wanted to get you something special. The pen was made by a local craftsman. His name is also John. John Dover. The guy is super old – looks to be a hundred. Yet even given his age, he still makes pens using his bare hands and simple tools. He said he has been making pens for more than 40 years. There is no telling how many pens his hands have made r how many writers have used his pens over the years. The one you have is made from a local oak tree that was knocked down in that big storm two years ago. You know, the storm that knocked out power for most of the town for more than three days. When I saw it, I knew it was the perfect gift for you.”
Give something special to the special people in your life. Give something local.
Want to know more about the benefits of shopping locally? Check out the awesome infographic produced by CustomMade found on Huffington Post.