Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Heart Small Business

Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They're offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for "Likes" of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the "Like" button and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.

Brick and Mortar, Mom and Pop, Independent Retailer, Small business. 

Whatever you call them I love them. They are the foundations that America’s retail giants were built on. They are my favorite places to shop and I try to spend my money their whenever I can.

Some of my favorite holiday shopping memories are not from braving crowds or getting up in the middle of the night for a door buster sale. No, they are from small downtown holiday shop walks. The town my husband and I grew up in would have a night with shop specials, hot cocoa, and a double decker bus that drove between the “uptown” shopping district and the “downtown” shopping district. It was a must attend holiday event and we looked forward to it every year.

Of all the small businesses that I frequent the one’s near and dear to my heart are the independent toy and hobby stores. Having one down the street from my house may be what I miss most about my city apartment.

Toys et cetera
Our local toy store was not just a place to get great gifts, it was a destination. Something for us to do when the toddler got tired of roaming the apartment. My experience with small independent stores is that’s it not just about getting in you in to spend money, it’s about an experience. We were always welcomed with a smile and a chat even though the associates knew that we were just there for a few minutes with their train table.

Smaller stores also know their audience and their product. Have you ever walked up to an associate at a big box store and said. “I’m looking for a birthday present for a 1 year old girl. I think a baby doll would be nice any suggestions”?  The last time I was in a big box store the associate working in Legos couldn't even direct me to what aisle My Little Pony was in (“er, um, over there in the pink”). Our local toy store has sold us some of our favorite toys and they are not ones we ever would have found on our own or at a big box store. Going into their store is like going on a treasure hunt.

I understand that you can’t always find what you are looking for, or get the best price at a small business. However you can get so much more and do more good. When you shop at local small business you are directly affecting your community. Local business is more likely to support community efforts, employ your neighbors, and work towards improving the community they are in. I have seen several studies (here is one) that show for every $100 spent at a chain store h$13 goes back into the community compared to $45 from a locally owned small business.

I won’t be shopping on Black Friday. I don’t like shopping that much and I really can’t handle the crowds. My husband and I will do what we do every year. Get a babysitter and plan a night to hit up some of our favorite business. Especially the toy stores!
Other way’s you can support a local business's? Do you have a book club, board or moms group that does a gift exchange? One year for my moms club gift exchange we made it a shop local exchange. We had a set dollar amount ($20) and the only rule was local, non-chain. It was a huge hit and tons of fun. What about doing that same thing with family? Everyone spread out all over? What a great way to “get to know” a cousin’s neighborhood than by getting a small gift from a mom and pop shop? It’s better than exchanging gift cards.

Do you shop local? What's your favorite store? Will you be supporting it on Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective , which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

1 comment:

Hyacynth said...

As a small busines owner, I really, really appreciate people who have a heart for the mom and pop run shops. I wish more people did.