Small business Saturday: 5 tips for local Christmas gift shopping
If you do all of this year’s holiday shopping at malls and big-box stores, you'll miss out on a chance to support small businesses and find more unique gifts for friends and family in the process. Small Business Saturday encourages people to break out of the habit of automatically heading to Wal-Mart or Amazon for those Christmas gifts and instead invest in the businesses most likely to give back.
Because small businesses DO give back. They provide over half of the jobs in this country and two-thirds of the new jobs created since the 1970's. They also invest more in the local community, putting three times more back into the local economy than national businesses do.Five ways we're shopping local this Small Business Saturday Click To Tweet
They also tend to offer more personal, friendly customer service, so you'll probably have a more pleasant experience shopping at a small business than you would waiting in line for a deal on electronics at one of the bigger stores.
Finding small businesses to shop with can be a little trickier than finding the closest mall, but the benefits are well worth it. Here are a few places to start looking.
1) Check out the American Express ShopSmall map
American Express has put together a map just for this purpose. Enter your local information and you'll see many of the options close to you.
Learning about the new small businesses close to you can help you come up with new ideas for Christmas gifts and help you support local business at the same time.
2) Browse Etsy
If you're not familiar with Etsy, you've been missing out. Artists and crafty people use the website to sell their creations. You can find creative home decorations, handmade jewelry, colorful clothing, and handbags – just check out their gift ideas page for a taste. Not only will you be supporting a small business (often a one-person business in this case), but you'll also end up with some really cool and unique Christmas gifts for your friends and family members.
If you want to make sure those Etsy gifts stay within your budget, there are a few easy tips from Mint to use the site without spending too much money.
3) Visit local farmers' markets
Most of your local farmers can be found at least once a week at a nearby farmers' market. This might seem like a weird suggestion for a place to find Christmas gifts, but you can often find more than fresh produce at a farmers' market. Items like handmade soaps and even sometimes locally crafted clothing can be found there.
There's also usually a selection of food items that last long enough to make good gifts. Honey, local-made salsa, and olive oil are all common items at farmers' markets– any of which would make nice Christmas gifts for any foodies in your life.
4) Visit local craft fairs and flea markets
Where do a large number of local vendors congregate all in one place? Craft fairs and flea markets offer a wealth of items from local small businesses that make great Christmas gifts.
From candles, to jewelry, to clothes, to toys – you can find a lot of the same types of items you'd encounter in a mall, but here many of them are handmade. Also check and see if your city has a citywide garage sale, you might find some unexpected treasures there as well.
5) Explore your community on foot
Why not combine a little exercise with your mission to support local business? Head to an area of town where shops are common and just go for a walk. You'll see a lot of the local small businesses as you go and maybe familiarize yourself with a new area of your city at the same time.
Small Business Saturday provides a reminder to do more of something most of us mean to do anyway. You probably already appreciate the value of local and small businesses, but sometimes we go with the big guys without really thinking about it. Don't let automatic win this year, get out there and support the community you care about.