a blog from CenturyLink

How (and why) to shop small businesses

by | Nov 22, 2021


Small businesses are the backbone of towns and cities and the economy at large. They contribute 44 percent of the economic activity in the U.S. and create two-thirds of new jobs. And small business owners are often innovators, offering new products and services that make life more interesting. That’s why it’s important to shop small and locally.

The Shop Small Movement was created to encourage people to buy locally, dine at restaurants in their neighborhood, and keep small businesses near them in the black. Holiday sales are vital to many local small businesses; some retailers generate almost 35 percent of their annual revenues during the last quarter of the year. But steady year-round sales help companies focus more on service and worry less about cash flow. Let’s explore some ways you can shop small and support the local businesses in your area.

A small business owner checks emails on his smart phone.

Keep the resources in your community

One thing the recent pandemic taught us is how much we value our local small businesses; many of us felt a palpable loss to see shops closed because they couldn’t hang on financially.

When you support a small business, you support your community. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, for every $100 you spend at a small business, $48 stays in the community, in part because local businesses also buy from each other and sponsor local events. Only $14 recirculates locally when you spend $100 at a national retailer or big-box store. Small businesses also generate taxes that improve schools and parks, hire police officers and firefighters, and fix potholes.

You get back what you give to small businesses.

Commit to regular purchases from small businesses

Some things we do or buy are almost always with a small local business – eating out, getting a haircut, and repairing an engine. But think of all the money you spend at major online retailers or national chain stores. Why do we go to them, time after time? Mainly for cost savings and convenience. It’s hard for small businesses to compete against the giants for our business.

Unless you’re on a very tight budget, commit to buying certain items from small businesses on a regular schedule. Every few weeks or once a month, browse the list of items you’re preparing to buy from Amazon, Walmart, or Costco. Figure out what you can get down the street instead. That’s probably more than you’ve done in the past, and if enough of us do it, the local shops will feel the gain.

Seek out new small businesses for family fun nights

Make it a point to visit a new small business once a month as part of a family fun night, date night or after your kid’s music lesson (which is another way to support a small business!). Get others involved by challenging your cycling group, craft club or scouts troop to do the same and share your favorite places.

A local pharmacist swipes a credit card on a smart phone reader.

Spread the word

Take the time to post a positive review of a local business on a community social media site like Nextdoor or your city’s Facebook page. That independent candy store owner or alterations shop will appreciate the free advertising, and neighbors often value an honest opinion from someone who’s already a customer. Be sure to mention those businesses to friends and associates at school events, church, and city council meetings to give the companies even more visibility.

Plan to shop Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday started in 2010 to encourage people to shop small the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s made a difference. American Express, the founder and major promoter of the Shop Small Movement, reported an estimated $19.8 billion in sales on Small Business Saturday 2020, a record high over the last 10 years.

Get started by “liking” the Small Business Saturday Facebook page to help get the word out. Then plan the day ahead of time, bring family or friends, and make it a fun event, something you’ll want to turn into an annual tradition.

When you’re at a shop, introduce yourself to the manager or owner. Find out how long they’ve been in business and if they plan to offer new products or services over the next year. You might learn something that makes you want to advocate for that business and help bring in more customers.

A restaurant owner plans a holiday menu for her local business.

Shop small this year and the next

Where would we be without our local small businesses? They’re worth our time and money, and they really need our support after the last few challenging years. Buying that cup of coffee or unique gift has a bigger impact than you may think in your town. For more on small business, check out the Small Business section of the CenturyLink Discover blog.

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<a href="https://discover.centurylink.com/author/kim-lindros" target="_self">Kim Lindros</a>

Kim Lindros