Small shops need your money more than big-box stores do

In Opinion

AuthenticEccentric_stdWith the holiday shopping season in full swing, megalithic conglomerates and corporations will be sending out sales flyers advertising the must-have items of the year.

Undoubtedly, this list will include a hodgepodge of technological devices including iPads, iPhones, Blu-rays, tool sets and more. The big-box stores that sell these items are already undoubtedly raking in profits in the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

It can be all too easy to forget during the holiday season that gifts don’t have to be limited to these commonplace items, nor does shopping have to be limited to nationally recognized companies. All across the nation, small businesses are making high-quality items with compassion and care. It’s time that more holiday shoppers consider a stop at one or more of these businesses.

The principal benefit of small business holiday shopping is that it helps strengthen America’s economy. Big-box stores may be profitable, but it’s the small businesses in this country that are creating a large portion of the new jobs we see today.

A 2010 study from the Small Business Administration said small businesses were responsible for the creation of approximately 65 percent of new private sector jobs.

Additionally, spending local means money stays local.

A study by Civic Economics, an analysis and strategic planning firm, showed that for every $100 people spend at local businesses, approximately $68 stays in the local economy.

Conversely, only about 43 percent of the money spent at big-box stores remains in the economy.

Small Business Saturday, an event created by credit card company American Express, has proven to be helpful for small businesses.

The event encourages American Express card holders to use their cards at small businesses; it’s a crafty business maneuver on the part of American Express because it requires businesses who wish to be participants in the event to accept American Express.

However, there are noticeable benefits to Small Business Saturday. In 2012, Small Business Saturday made about $5.5 billion in revenue for small businesses.

The impact has been felt and noted by businesses, who craft social media campaigns, increase advertising and hire more people in anticipation of busier holiday sales.

A 2013 analysis from the National Federation of Independent Business stated that more than 70 percent of businesses surveyed said they believed the Small Business Saturday event would help them that year.

Small Business Saturday has already passed for 2014, but the concept remains the same: coordinated efforts to shop locally positively affects small businesses in every aspect.

If more individuals made a vested effort to shop at local retailers, they could make positive economic impacts every day, not just on one.

There’s more to shopping at local stores than just a noticeable boon to the economy; there’s a certain whimsical quality to carefully-crafted items as opposed to items that were mass manufactured. It’s nice knowing that some local craftsperson put effort into their baked goods, candles, jewelry and more.

But perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the small business owners in our community are a part of our communities, and that these individuals often take on more than just one hat. They might be neighbors, friends, coaches or church members.

By supporting the business that these individuals own or are a part of, we in turn, help them. That’s not something that can be quantified in numbers, but it is meaningful. And maybe that is in part what the holidays are about, helping our friends and neighbors.

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