Happy Small Business Saturday 2017
Today is the day we celebrate the Christmas Shopping Season by supporting small business owners. This we can do locally in our own communities or online in our social media groups. In either case, you’ll find the small business owners to be much more knowledgeable than their big box counterparts.
Shopping local reaps a number of benefits to the local economy. The CO-OP Financial Services network enumerates them as follows:
1. You’ll help create jobs in the community
Local retailers have created 66% of all jobs since 1970 and have a higher employee retention rate than national chains because they are directly responsible for hiring and are therefore more personally invested in and connected with their employees.
2. Your tax dollars stay local
The money you’re paying in sales tax stays in the community at a higher rate than in chain stores. On average, 52% of local retailers’ revenue is returned directly to the community rather than the 14% rate found among chain stores. This higher rate of reinvestment by local businesses contributes directly to the well-being of the community.
3. Small businesses give back to the neighborhood
In most cases, local businesses are in it for the long haul. Because of this desire to create a living legacy on site, local vendors will often engage in the communities they occupy in very beneficial ways. They sponsor little league teams, decorate for the holidays, hold artistic events and host club meetings. They often provide a safe place for kids whose parents aren’t home from work yet. They are not fly-by-night operators. They are heavily invested in their business. Part of that investment was their choice of location. It’s not by accident. It’s a decision they made deliberately and they want to give back to the community they’ve set up shop in.
4. Shopping at one local business helps other local businesses
There’s a bit of a domino effect in shopping local. When you park at a small retailer, you’re usually going to be in close proximity to a variety of others. When you go into one shop, there’s a high probability that you’ll check out a couple of the neighboring stores and possibly stop in at a Mom & Pop grill for lunch. When you stop by your local “high street”, there is a collection of stores that you just won’t find at the mall or complex of chain stores. Likewise, when you stop in at stores of this sort you’re finding people who are intimately associated with their product rather than a bunch of bored college kids, ex-housewives and pensioners who are rotating between employee uniform polo shirts. When you find a store where the owner is there to give you personal advice about her product line, it beats the tar out of trying to ask the nearest mass-market employee about pretty much anything.
5. Small businesses offer more unique products
Individual retailers have a lot more distinctive products and services to offer than you’d find in chain stores. One of the great things about chains is that if you’re on vacation or away on business, you can go into a Target or WalMart and find exactly what you’re looking for because it’s laid out pretty much the same as your local branch and will contain pretty much the same selection of products. With individual retailers, you get variety, creativity, originality and exclusivity. Sure, anybody can cook a burger. You can get one from McDonald’s or Burger King or even Wendy’s. What you can only get from local vendors are their own special vision. You get the Cheesy “Mac Attack” Burger, the DDD Burger or the Inside-Out Burger. The creative vision of local retailers is an underappreciated hidden treasure. Make sure you take some time to seek them out. Here is a map to help you locate your local businesses.
6. It helps keep communities diverse
Local vendors come from every corner of American society and worldwide. Immigrants still come to the Land of Opportunity and bring their unique perspectives, skills and flavors with them. People from all walks of life work up the nerve and capital to rent or buy a spot to call their own. Artists, farmers, chefs, tradesmen and tailors all pursue the American Dream in their own way. Get to know your local retailers today and support your local economy.
A purchase among friends
Platforms like Facebook have enabled virtual small businesses to thrive in close-knit groups of friends and fans. With a minuscule fraction of what it costs to start a local brick and mortar business, you can be up and profitable online. In the real world, the plan was to be either in the market square or on the “high street” of town where all the shops were located. Later people rented space at the mall or leased an area in a shopping center between massive chain stores. Whatever the strategy, you are dependent on traffic.
In the physical world, your traffic is entirely determined by your locale. If you’re easy to find and you’re offering products that people want, you’ll stay in business. If you’re in a tight niche that doesn’t resonate with people who are within a reasonable driving distance of you, you’re heading for trouble.
Online, your traffic is determined by search engine results and whatever word-of-mouth you can generate on social platforms. Fortunately, if you know how, you can drive traffic from sources far and wide in ways that are unthinkable in the physical realm. In a little shop in the middle of a farmer’s market in your local city, you might be able to attract folks from the ‘burbs or even a few hours drive if your reputation has spread. But the cinnamon roll connoisseur from Taipei just isn’t going to fly to Allentown to check out your wares. Maybe once if you’ve got a killer reputation, but not on a regular basis. If you’re online, you’re a few keystrokes away from anybody who has an interest in what you’re selling. You can sell whatever it is you’re selling worldwide, 24×7. You can sell physical products via Amazon or with various drop-shipping services. You can sell on-demand physical products with CreateSpace, Lulu, Kunaki and the like. You can sell information products via digital delivery from any site you own at all hours of the day in virtually every country on Earth.
The great thing about the internet is that it has enabled worldwide instant communication. Star Trek fans from countries on every continent can geek out together over aspects of their favorite episodes and movies. Comic book enthusiasts can debate the relative powers of their favorite characters. Coffee enthusiasts can share recipes and brewing tips. Groups of like-minded people can freely share tips about their common passion. Those with a whole lot of value to provide can even sell what they know and do. It’s this relationship with your peers that allows you to sell so effectively. When people know that you know what you’re about and that you’ve established your topic-cred, you’re in a very good position to sell products and services within that thought community.
When you buy from these friendly virtual-neighborhood experts, you are helping to support enterprising individuals who were previously stuck like square pegs in round hole jobs. Supporting small businesses online helps moms stay home with their kids, husbands stay home with their wives, folks stay home with their dogs and cats. You’re helping seniors to stay mentally active and financially secure. You’re helping people from impoverished countries to rise above their circumstances and pay it forward into their communities. You’re helping people escape the daily grind of tedious jobs to pursue passion projects. You’re making the world a better place when you buy from small businesses.
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to buying from small businesses. Do your part to stimulate the local economy with your Christmas shopping today!