Photo (cc) by Elvert Barnes
Big retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target lure you into their stores on Black Friday with doorbuster deals. If that’s not enough, these same stores offer online deals on Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day too. But where’s the love for the little guys – the small businesses that are a big part of our nation’s economy?
With the holiday season just around the corner, you may feel maxed out on dedicated shopping days. Is there room for one more – Small Business Saturday? Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says “yes” and has the scoop on this unique shopping day.
What is Small Business Saturday?
Started by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday occurs on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. An estimated 103 million Americans participated in 2011, according to American Express. Here are some great reasons to shop on Small Business Saturday, to be held Nov. 24 this year:
1. Support the local economy
By buying local, your money stays local. This means more jobs for residents and increased tax revenues for local governments.
According to one study of the local economy in Salt Lake City, an average of 52 percent of revenue from local retailers returned to the local economy, compared to only 14 percent for national chain retailers. Similar findings were reported with restaurants, with local eateries returning an average 79 percent versus just 30 percent for chains.
Even if buying local means spending a bit more, your community may receive a greater portion of your purchase in return.
2. Avoid crazy Black Friday shopping
Black Friday may have some of the best deals of the year, but the packed crowds and insane lines are a turn-off for some. Many of the doorbuster deals advertised by stores are very limited in quantity, so you’ll line up early with potentially nothing to show for it.
By shopping on Small Business Saturday, you might not get the same amazing deals, but you won’t have to battle other customers to get what you want, either.
3. $25 credit from American Express
If you’re an American Express credit card holder, you can get $25 back when you spend at least $25 at a local retailer. All you need to do is enroll in the program and meet a few qualifications, which can be found on the Small Business Saturday site. Enrollment is limited and begins Nov. 18, 2012.
4. Better for the environment
Whether by boat or plane, there are significant environmental costs from shipping goods long distances.
Two-thirds of goods purchased by American consumers come by cargo ships, which are major polluters. Although new regulations recently went into effect that should reduce shipping emissions, the amount of pollution ships have historically been responsible for is astounding. According to this 2009 article in UK paper The Guardian, “just 15 of the world’s biggest ships emit as much pollution as all the world’s 760 million cars.”
The same article also says, “air freight results in greater fuel consumption and higher greenhouse-gas emissions per ton-mile than any other type of transport.”
While some small businesses obviously stock products from faraway places, you’re more likely to find locally-made goods in one, which lowers transport cost and pollution.
5. More local jobs
According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses employ about half of all private-sector employees in the U.S.
Even though large chains create jobs in their stores, the downsizing or closure of competing local businesses can mean a net loss in jobs. According to one university study on the effects of Walmart on labor markets, opening a Walmart store actually reduces employment by an average of 150 jobs within the county it’s located, implying each Walmart worker replaces roughly 1.4 retail workers.
Shopping at local businesses helps these smaller shops keep their doors open and their workers employed.
6. Unique gifts
You’ll often find gifts in local shops you won’t find in larger stores – like handmade jewelry or artisan foods. These gifts can add a special touch that you can’t get from mass-produced products.
7. Local businesses are online too
You don’t have to limit your local shopping to in-store browsing. Finding nearby small businesses with the handmade goods you’re looking for is easy using a site like Etsy Local. You can search by location to find local artisans offering jewelry, art, and clothing near your hometown.
If you still want to support small businesses but can’t find what you’re looking for locally, you can order on Etsy and have your purchase shipped.
You don’t have to limit your support of small businesses to just this one day, either. Think local year-round, and both you and your community will benefit even more.