Five Reasons to Shop Local on Small Business Saturday

Forget about fighting the crowds at the large national chain stores on Black Friday. Who wants to wait in line in the dark and cold for the big box store to open, only to be elbowed out of the way as an over-zealous shopper snatches up the last Xbox One Console? Wait until Small Business Saturday and start your holiday shopping on a more joyful note.

The seventh annual Small Business Saturday takes place on November 26, 2016, the day after Black Friday. It's a day dedicated to supporting small businesses during the biggest retail weekend of the year. Celebrate the day by supporting your community's small businesses. You'll have a better shopping experience, help fuel the local economy, and find unique and special gifts for everyone on your list.

Here are five reasons you should support local businesses this holiday season:

1. You'll direct dollars into the local economy.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of a community. The Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy reports that small businesses employ nearly half of all American workers and play a critical role in creating new jobs. Small businesses were responsible for 65% of all new jobs created between 1993 and 2009.

When you shop small businesses, your dollars are used to pay their employees, who in turn spend them in local grocery stores, shopping centers, and auto dealerships. As more money is pumped into the local economy, more jobs are created and the tax base grows.

2. You’ll have a better, more personalized shopping experience.

Local retailers tend to place a greater focus on customer service. They rely on repeat business to succeed and will make the extra effort to ensure you'll come back. Small business owners develop ongoing relationships with their customers based on trust and quality service. When merchants know their customers and understand their needs, the customer benefits with a better shopping experience.

Barillas' and Tindall's Ames, Iowa location
Barillas' and Tindall's Ames, Iowa location | Source

Small businesswoman Lisa Barillas, co-owner of Lyla’s Boutique, a women's clothing store with locations in Clear Lake, Ames, and Cedar Falls, Iowa, echoes these observations. "Local businesses are staffed by local residents, your friends and neighbors," Barillas points out. "You get better services from people you know and who know you."

Like other small business owners, Barillas and her partner, Twyla Tindall, make customer service a priority at their stores with special events and discounts at holiday time and all year long. It's not uncommon for either of them to hand-deliver an item from one of their stores to another to satisfy a customer request, going far beyond the level of service available from a large national retailer.

3. Shopping locally reduces the environmental impact of your purchases.

Local businesses are more likely to source goods and services from other local businesses. This reduces the distance a product travels before it reaches the consumer, saving gas and creating less pollution. Local retailers tend to locate in central locations, minimizing urban sprawl and habitat loss, unlike their big box counterparts that build on the outskirts of town. Customers who shop locally use less gas to reach their destinations and contribute less to traffic congestion.

4. Small businesses provide unique shopping experiences that set a community apart and provide greater choices for consumers.

Walk into a Best Buy or Wal-Mart anywhere in the United States and it will look and feel just like any other Best Buy or Wal-Mart, with the same merchandise located in the same aisles. Take a strip mall of chain stores from Cleveland and plop it down in the middle of Houston and no one would know the difference. Resist the homogenization of America this holiday season by seeking out one-of-a-kind gifts from one-of-a-kind stores.

By shopping locally, you help to preserve a community's distinct character and charm while finding unique gifts for your friends and loved ones. Over the long-term, everyone benefits. Diversity in the marketplace leads to more choices for consumers and more competition leads to lower prices.

5. Small business owners are more invested in the community.

Local businesses are owned by people who live in your community. "A greater share of hometown retailers stay in town," says Jim Gossett, Executive Director of the Carroll, Iowa, Chamber of Commerce. "It’s a good feeling to purchase from a local store owner who you will see out in the community at church, ballgames, or in your neighborhood."

As members of the community, local business owners are more invested in the community’s future. They donate more to local charities than non-local owners. They support community events and projects. Reward them for their support by supporting their businesses.

According to the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, three out of 10 new small businesses fail within two years and only half survive five years. By shopping locally, you can help to ensure the success of small business owners who are a part of your community. As Gossett urges, "Shop in the name of love for local merchants!"

Take the Small Business Saturday Poll

Why will you shop locally this holiday season?

  • To help the local economy.
  • For better customer service.
  • To do my part for the environment.
  • To find special or one-of-a-kind gifts.
  • To support local businesspeople.
  • All of the above.
  • Other (provide your reasons in the comments section below).
See results without voting

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Comments 12 comments

jenubouka 5 years ago

I couldn't agree more, it saddens and frustrates me that big stores come into a small struggling community and take away the uniqueness of the town by underselling the locals.


moiauge profile image

moiauge 5 years ago from New York

I LOVE this article!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 5 years ago from Iowa Author

Thank you for reading and commenting, jenubouka and moiauge. Please help spread the word about supporting our small local businesses this holiday season!


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

I have never heard of "small business Saturday" but it certainly sounds so much more delightful of a shopping experience than "black Friday" and "cyber Monday."


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 5 years ago from Iowa Author

I just heard about it myself, ktrapp, and had to spread the news. Our local small businesses need all the help they can get in this tough economy! Thanks for the comment.


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 5 years ago from Southwest England

well done on this hub - a great message. I agree we should all shop local as much as we can, to support our local economies, reduce pollution from transportation and take some of the power away from the big multi-national companies that dominate our lives. voting up!


Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

I don't know how these small businesses survive, but I'm doing my part. My husband and I also frequent a few of the local, family-owned restaurants during the week. Without knowing it, there have been times when we've driven to places that have been boarded up for weeks. It's been tough for everyone.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 5 years ago from Iowa Author

Thanks for the read and comments, Imogen and Arlene. It is sad when the small places close up. My city is still recovering from a flood 3 years ago. A lot of places never came back.


healthwealthmusic profile image

healthwealthmusic 4 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

Another reason I like to shop locally is because the customer service is much more friendly and personal - you feel like you know these people and that they care about you! I also appreciate the convenience.


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 4 years ago from Illinois

Hi Deborah. I remember learning about 'Small Business Saturday' from you last year and thought of you when I saw a television commercial for it just the other day. I avoid Black Friday at all costs, but can certainly embrace the idea of Small Business Saturday.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Great topic for a hub. If more people shop locally we can help bring back the Mom & Pop stores that were once the backbone of America! Voted this up +++, useful, interesting and shared!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa Author

Thanks, healthwealthmusic, ktrapp, and tillsontitan. I hope everyone remembers their small local businesses when shopping this weekend!

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