Small Business Saturday – Spending in Support of Local Businesses

small-businessSmall Business Saturday, which started in 2010 and was created by American Express, encourages holiday shoppers to skip the big box stores and shop at small local businesses instead for a day. It’s clearly caught the attention of a lot of people, as the official Facebook page has over 2.5 million “Likes.” In addition, American Express has some great marketing materials for Small Business Saturday and offers to help these small businesses, too, like $100 in free Facebook ads. Aside from that, I think it’s an important mission and something that I do regularly and not just during the holidays.

Her are some examples of small business I patronize regularly:

the (new) Elm City Market Co-Op in New Haven: I won’t be shopping there tomorrow since I’ll be out of town, but I think this is among the best options for supporting small, local businesses. Not only is the store member-owned, but a large amount of the products they carry are locally made, too. For example, I bought some great locally roasted coffee last week. They still have apples grown in CT there as well. Aside from the products, the Co-Op offers their employees some of the best wages and benefits around, so I’m happy to support this store. (I’ve definitely scaled back my shopping at Trader Joe’s since this Market opened, too).

Neighborhood markets. These are great for stopping in to grab stuff in a pinch. There are three of them nearby to my house, and as far as I know they are all family owned and operated. While I try not to shop there all the time since that would cost me quite a bit of money, I’m at least glad that they are all small businesses I can support.

Bike shop. I really love the local bike shop, the Devil’s Gear, which is conveniently located right next to my office. I know the owner personally, and I’m friendly with a lot of the employees there, too. I know that I can often buy a lot of the stuff they sell online instead and at a cheaper price, but I really like the friendliness and convenience of the local stop.

There stores all capture what I like best about shopping local:

  1. Relationships – it’s great to get to know the local business owners, and it’s hard to match this with big box stores.
  2. Good jobs – these places all provide great jobs for those that live in the community. The employees always seem more cheerful and happy to be working at these shops rather than large retailers.
  3. Keeping money local – I feel great knowing that a greater portion of what I spend stays local when I shop local. This article by TIME suggests that about twice as much money stays in the community with shopping local compared to shopping at businesses that aren’t locally owned and operated.

Unfortunately, supporting local businesses seems harder and harder to do, especially depending on where you live. Many towns seem to thrive on this strip-mall layout that includes virtually every type of chain store and restaurant franchise known to America.

In addition, many shoppers complain about the high prices of local stores because these small businesses simply can’t compete with the big stores on the volume of products they move. But I can’t imagine what life would be like without these small businesses. At the very least stores and restaurants would be way more bland and unexciting.

I feel like a lot of people get excited to go to little touristy cities and stop into the small little shops there (several spots in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts come to mind for me). Why can’t these small shops be exciting and appealing all the time?

Will you be supporting any small businesses on Small Business Saturday this holiday season?

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photo by: La Citta Vita


  1. We try to support local businesses all of the time. In the summer we shop at the farmer’s market and belong to a CSA. I also take pilates classes at a local studio instead of a chain place. I am a huge fan of investing in the local community by purchasing local. 

  2. If we don’t make an effort to support our local community, we risk empty storefronts and a lower standard of living, as a city’s tax base is slowly reduced.

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