The holidays are upon us and for many that means a lot of holiday shopping! Do you typically shop from large retailers or smaller businesses? Have you given some thought to the rationale for shopping small this holiday season? In today’s post, we’ll talk about that in more depth. Here are five good reasons to support small businesses this season.
While it depends on the retailer, you can often find more unique items at a small business. Large chains and major retailers have well-established relationships with big suppliers (think department stores and Godiva chocolates, for example!) But where can you find those more unique, often handmade items?
Small businesses often sell their own products (like baked goods and stationary) and are also more likely to sell unique items from local artisans. This makes it easier for you to buy gifts that are more special, harder to find, and less likely to be something the recipient already has.
High Quality Craftsmanship
In general, small businesses and handmade shops are more likely to manufacture their products in small batches with greater attention to detail, and with higher quality materials. The stickers I sell in my Etsy shop, for example, are all designed by me and then printed and cut one sheet at a time. I inspect each sheet before packing it in a customer’s order. This is far more involved than stickers manufactured in a major print house.
It should go without saying that when you buy something of higher quality, it’s likely to last longer and better serve its purpose. Winning!
High Touch Customer Service
If you’ve ever seen You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, you’ll be familiar with the tug of war between shopping from a large retailer (Foxbooks) versus a small business (The Shop Around The Corner). While Foxbooks is the new kid on the block with a fancy big store and discount prices, The Shop Around The Corner is a neighbourhod landmark with incredible customer service, and a knowledgeable owner.
This is a great example of the type of experience a smaller shop can offer.
Since the people operating small businesses are often their owners, you’ll often receive a higher level of customer service. Owners are generally deeply invested in their companies, and want each customer to have the best possible experience. Because, for them, this leads to positive word of mouth and repeat business.
What does this mean for you? Greater knowledge about the products and services they offer, more of an incentive on the owner’s part to deliver a great experience, and better response after the fact if you have any questions or concerns about your purchase.
Personalization and Customization
When you shop from large retailers, they often don’t have flexibility in their inventory. They sell what they sell, and you can choose to buy it or not. They don’t have the time, resources, or desire to offer anything beyond their standard items.
Small businesses, on the other hand, often manufacture their own products or at least work closely with their suppliers. This gives them a better ability to tailor their products and services to meet your needs. This applies to services too: a small, independent photographer may more easily be able to offer you a custom package compared to the photo studio at a large department store.
With this added customization, you can find gifts and services that are more tailored to your specific needs, giving you exactly what you want.
When you shop from large retailers, you’re building their bottom line and lining the pockets of executives come bonus time. While some stores operate on commission, this isn’t always the case. And the phenomenal sales associate who helps you may not receive any tangible benefit from your purchase.
When you support a small business, on the other hand, you’re supporting the owner’s dream. You’re rewarding the blood, sweat, and tears they put into their company. And you’re helping them put food on the table for their family. It’s a way to directly support those who delivered that customer experience.
Looking for some ideas for gifts from small businesses? My Etsy gift guides for men and for women are filled with suggestions. And if you live in Ontario, be sure to check out truLOCAL’s Holiday Gift Boxes that I wrote about last week! They’re locally sourced from small businesses around the province.
So when you’re doing your holiday shopping this season, I encourage you to consider shopping small. Small businesses often deliver a better product and shopping experience. And the act of shopping small can make all the difference to your community.
Leave a comment sharing with us some of your favourite small businesses – we’d love to hear them!