9 steps to shopping small this year

Purchases of small enterprises is a practice that, in theory, just about anyone can follow. In fact, you can rely on Amazon Prime more than you would like.

Large online retailers often promise fast delivery times and ultra-low prices, which contrasts with the slower turnaround times and higher prices of a small business’ curated product selection. Naturally, inflation(Opens in a new tab) further exacerbates this difference.

But the fact remains that “[small businesses] are really, really what keeps our economy going,” like Edy Massih(Opens in a new tab)owner of Edy’s grocer(Opens in a new tab) in Brooklyn, New York, put it on.

Why you should support small businesses

Massih is not exaggerating. According to United States Chamber of Commerce(Opens in a new tab), nearly half of America’s workforce is employed by the country’s 30 million small businesses. Small businesses pay local taxes that go into the community, bring money into local economies through employee payrolls, and are likely to make(Opens in a new tab) to their local charities.

“We also find that small, locally owned businesses tend to compensate local people better than larger organizations,” said Abigail Ingram(Opens in a new tab)the executive director of the University of Chicago Polsky Exchange(Opens in a new tab)a startup incubator that supports the growth of small businesses.

Small businesses also have created 5.5 million jobs(Opens in a new tab) since the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and intend to continue to increase their workforce(Opens in a new tab)despite growing concerns about inflation.

To keep these small businesses going, every expert we spoke to highlighted one crucial element: capital. While there are many ways for a business to get capital, as a consumer you can help businesses get the capital they need by supporting them with your money.

“For entrepreneurs of color, these issues are exacerbated by higher and more costly capital barriers and different social capital than their white peers,” said Melissa Bradley(Opens in a new tab), founder of platform-accelerator 1863 Ventures designed to help small businesses, in an email to Mashable. This makes it all the more clear why companies belonging to BIPOC are particularly important to support.

And then there’s the fact that diverse communities deserve diverse businesses to serve them. After all, “small businesses are the lifeblood of the community,” Ingram said.

With that in mind, we spoke to small business owners and several experts who regularly work to support small business growth to compile some tips on the best ways to shop small, all year round.

1. Recognize all the opportunities you have to shop with a small business.

What is a small business(Opens in a new tab) can vary from industry to industry, but simply put it can encompass a business with between one and 1,500 employees.

In other words, “small businesses can present themselves in many different ways”, such as Jennifer DaSilva(Opens in a new tab)founder and executive director of the non-profit association Start small, think big(Opens in a new tab), said. They may look like your local deli or an artist Etsy Shopbut they can also look like a small series creamery(Opens in a new tab), professional development services(Opens in a new tab)A plus size clothing company(Opens in a new tab)or any given stand at a farmer’s market.

With all of your options in mind, DaSilva recommends being aware of the choices you have and the power you hold as a consumer. “Once you start noticing that and really think about where you get your stuff and how you make those choices, there are a lot of opportunities to participate in that support system,” he said. she declared.

2. Use the internet to support small businesses that aren’t local, as well as find ones that are.

We get the advice to “simply search” seems borderline sarcastic, but we’ve got some real resources for you, including:

The American Express map showing small businesses in downtown Los Angeles.
Credit: Screenshot / American Express

3. Allow extra time for shopping when possible.

It will likely take longer for a small business to ship your items. Or, if you’re looking for something specific, chances are you need to visit more than one store. And that’s not a bad thing! Get out of your Amazon Prime habit of instant gratification and let the shopping process take longer.

Chances are you won’t need this article ASAP, and when you actually appreciate the specialized experience that many small businesses offer, you might walk away with something better than you hoped for. buy first. After all, “small businesses often run experiments; [they’re] not the mall. Take the time to ask questions, look around and share your needs,” Bradley said.

4. You don’t have to go all or nothing.

Buying small may cost you more time and money, but supporting small businesses doesn’t mean completely rethinking the way you buy, either.

Edy Massih, owner of Edy’s Grocer in Brooklyn New York, recommends starting with your shopping list and a few simple questions: “What can I buy small? Or what can I afford to buy small? What do I want to buy small? Massih said that while you can’t buy eggs from a small farm every time you need to restock, maybe once a month, you make it a point to go with the most option. expensive in the name of supporting small businesses (and getting a better product).

5. Become a regular.

Edy’s grocer(Opens in a new tab) received a lot of attention after opening in August 2020, seeming to be one of the few positive news at the time. However, despite its appearance in the new yorker, Forbesand on the Today show, Massih maintains that customer support remains crucial.

“The press comes and goes,” he said. “The main reason we survive is our loyal customers.”

Even for businesses that don’t get national press, a grand opening or Small Business Saturday can lead to a surge in customers that doesn’t sustain, which can lead to a business closing. Be sure to return to the places you love and those businesses will feel your support.

6. Take online reviews with a grain of salt.

Yelp and Google are decent starting points for finding new places to shop, but don’t be so quick to dismiss a place based on a few bad reviews. “We may have had 100 customers on a Saturday, but we served one person poorly,” Massih said. “But out of 100 customers, no one wrote us a review other than this negative review.”

In other words, the best way to judge a local business is to go and try it yourself.

7. Explore a small business.

Edy’s Grocer was one of many companies to participate in Greenpoint, the first “Retail Analysis(Opens in a new tab)which has encouraged buyers to consult with a series of owners. The best part? It happens every month, promoting continuous support all year round.

cashier checking an item surrounded by an outline of phone screens with


Credit: Vicky Leta/Mashable

Even if your area doesn’t offer small business exploration, you can capture the spirit through your own buying habits. Pick a weekend and see how many small businesses you can reach. You don’t have to buy something from every one of them – knowing they’re there will make it much easier to find places to shop in the future.

8. Remember that Small Business Saturday isn’t the only time small businesses need support.

Is this a revisit to tip number 5? Yes, but it bears repeating!

Jennifer DaSilva said part of the power of being a consumer is “really recognizing that every dollar you spend can help and/or save a small business.”

Spending your money only once a year won’t keep those small businesses in your local or online community running, so it’s essential to find a way to make your purchases sustainable for yourself (like combining the advice of this list).

9. Tell your friends and family where you like to shop.

Another near-universal piece of advice we heard in our interviews with experts was the power of word of mouth. From posting your latest purchase on your Instagram story to recommending your favorite family restaurant to people who come from out of town, your personal recs go a long way.

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