Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving? We can’t! This year, among many things, has felt paradoxical—time flying one minute and standing still the next. But despite the unforeseen circumstances of 2020, a major theme that's been consistently present is the resilience among people and institutions in the face of challenges.
One area where this resilience is apparent is in the support of small businesses. Whether a local restaurant, unique consignment shop, or small town bakery, there have been numerous examples of communities coming together to support the businesses they love most...even amidst a global pandemic. And, this makes sense when 99.9 percent of businesses in the U.S.— 30.7 million to be exact—fall into this category and contribute to keeping our economy healthy.
However, as winter sets in across the country, and COVID-19 cases rise, it’s important to not lose sight of the momentum behind supporting small businesses before, through, and after the holidays, even if that support looks a little different this year. Moreover, it’s worth noting: some small business owners, while grateful for the influx of support, have also struggled to keep up with mountains of new orders or expanding their supply chain, especially if their products are handmade, require customization, or are created with specialty ingredients or parts.
That’s why, it’s important to support these business owners with patience and proactivity top of mind—Shopping earlier this year and giving small store owners the space, understanding, and time necessary to fill your order within the constraints of their business and resources.
This coming week marks the 10th annual Small Business Saturday, but is still happening to call attention to the importance of shopping at small businesses, which, no matter what year it is, happens to be the backbone of our local communities and national economy. So be sure to keep reading for why you should support small business, a few sustainability tips to keep in mind while shopping in-person or online, and a roundup of local businesses to support in key markets (plus, a map for how to #ShopSmall in your area).
WHY SUPPORT SMALL BUSIness?
An important factor to remember when shopping locally is that every purchase you make at a small business in your surrounding area contributes to helping your community thrive. According to the Small Business Administration, there are approximately 30.7 million small businesses across the U.S., which employs almost 50 percent of the state’s private workforce. By purchasing goods or services from small businesses, your tax dollars stay where you live and support local schools, libraries, and other community resources! Whether you’re grabbing some cookies at a local cafe or tracking down a unique holiday gift from a small boutique, supporting your local businesses by “shopping small” allows them to give back in ways that go way beyond dollars and cents.
TIPS FOR SHOPPING SMALL
Just because shopping looks a bit different this year doesn’t mean we should throw all sustainability tips out the window. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when shopping this year:
- If you’re allowed, bring your own bag or keep a reusable bag in your car and ask for less (or no) packaging if you can. Remember, you likely have leftover bags, newspapers, and ribbon at home that you could use to creatively wrap and deliver any gifts.
- Shop early and space out your orders to small businesses during the holiday season. With the aforementioned impact of an influx of orders, some small businesses struggle to keep their inventory up or ship goods on time. Practicing proactivity as well as having patience and care for the human behind the small business is key to shopping small this holiday season
- If you liked your experience or product, leave an online review! Thankfully, doing this only takes a few minutes and is sustainable too!
- If you, and the local business you want to support, have options to shop in-person with the proper safety & health precautions top of mind, consider going in-store to buy instead. This helps cut down on single-use, wasteful packaging (tape, peanuts, boxes, etc.) and other unnecessary materials that can be hard to dispose of sustainably
- Shop with your values in mind. If you care about sustainability or supporting, for example, fair trade items, be sure to do your research and find small businesses that carry products and/or experiences that support the causes you care about!
American Express also put together this helpful online map to search your location for small businesses to support locally. Check out a few other round-ups below to help support shopping small this season.
Featured Small Businesses
RoadRunner strongly encourages and supports shopping at small businesses in the communities we serve. It wouldn’t be fair to just call out one small business in the cities below, so we’re sharing some suggestions and a few resources to help guide you on your “shopping small” journey no matter where you are.
Small Business: Pittsburgh & Philadelphia
In Pittsburgh, there’s a helpful Facebook page that was started at the beginning of the pandemic to highlight local restaurants and small businesses that are offering take out, delivery, and contactless pick up. Whether you’re searching for a pie to add to your Thanksgiving meal or some takeout to sustain you through the holiday season, this resource is always up to date and allows the community to connect directly with business owners. Additionally, one other small business local to Pittsburgh is Amazing Books & Records, which sells new and used media. This business, while seemingly open to in-person shoppers, also has an online store and a book subscription service (buy three books, get one free). You can explore this local bookstore’s website here.
In Philly, a local tourist organization put together a comprehensive list, organized by neighborhood, of the best places to eat, shop, and hang out—See the round-up here & some tips for shopping smart, here.
Small Business: Chicago
Chicago, the windy city, should also be known for their extensive resources related to small businesses and supporting them at this challenging time. One of the local neighborhoods, Ravenwood, even created this website guide for supporting small businesses in their area with a helpful map to follow on your shopping expedition.
Whether you decide to order cookies to pick up at a local bakery, shop online, or stroll the streets of Chicago, there are a number of resources you can use on your journey. Note, here are a couple more websites to help keep small business alive and well in Chicago:
Small Business: Baltimore & D.C.
In Baltimore, a neighborhood Green Spring Station put together a little guide showcasing the locally-owned boutiques, restaurants, and cafes to support as part of “shopping small” this coming weekend.
In Washington D.C., there are heaps of options for supporting local businesses. The city even has its own “shop small” website where they’ve aggregated a local directory of small businesses to support this year and even asked locals to pledge to support these businesses to the tune of 20K sales across the District. There is also a raffle taking place at participating local retailers to encourage shoppers to support more than one local business for the chance to win a gift box from D.C. brands—A great tactic to support the shops in the city while elevating the mission behind Small Business Saturday. If you need more resources for this area, a local newspaper also published a short guide by neighborhood to shop small in D.C.
Small Business: Online
No matter where you’re living or visiting during this holiday, there is always a chance to support small business thanks to a plethora of accessibility to retailers and virtual experiences online. As with anything, we encourage our readers to do their own research and find an online small business to support in line with your needs and perhaps in tandem with shopping locally as well. Here are just a few examples of great products or gifts you can purchase online to support the growth of small business across the country:
- Enbois Originals - A small business that consciously crafts accessories sustainably while donating purchase funds to reforestation efforts in Caribbean communities
- Goodee - Is a startup that curates home goods from artisans & brands with a strong social or environmental mission
- Redoux - A small, but growing, handmade and homemade skincare brand with simple yet sustainable packaging and ingredients
Whether or not you live in the above cities, we hope we’ve provided you with enough resources to stay informed and get you ready to #ShopSmall this Saturday. Remember, you can always support any of the businesses on this list, near and far, by shopping online too. Let us know in the comments where you plan to get your gifts this season and what you love about supporting small businesses (bonus points if they’re sustainable). Until next time, thanks for reading and have a safe & happy holiday!