No matter what you’re celebrating, the holidays are a time of giving. Throughout the next few weeks, you’ll give your mom the new coffeemaker she wants, and you’ll give your children a reason to believe in Santa Claus, but what will you give to your community?
When you shop at locally owned stores, stay at locally owned hotels and eat at locally owned restaurants this holiday season, you’ll give your community the gift of prosperity – and you’ll find a business that you can depend on all year long. ‘Tis the season to shop, and here are 10 reasons to keep it local.
1. More money in the local economy
If each family spent just $100 of their holiday shopping budget at locally owned businesses, more than $7.8 billion would be returned to local communities across the country.* Around the holidays, that money could mean a more festive main street with decorations, parades and carolers, or a couple extra snowplows so that your white Christmas doesn’t keep you from getting to Grandma’s house for dinner.
2. Personal, one-of-a-kind gifts
Local businesses carry a diverse selection of high-quality products, often from companies not represented in the big box store around the corner. That’s because small business owners take the time to evaluate and handpick each item they stock, and their years of experience have taught them which products work best for their customers. As a result, you can find the perfect, unique gift for everyone on your list, without worrying that you and your sister picked out the same plain sweater for Dad.
3. Holiday cheer
Small businesses are known in their communities for their dedication to customer service. Don’t be surprised to get a candy cane as you leave the local bookstore or a holiday card from the local hardware store you visited for a Father’s Day present this summer.
4. No shipping costs or last-minute deliveries
Shopping at small businesses relieves the hassle of shopping online for last-minute gifts. You won’t have to pay for rush deliveries or wonder if your gifts will arrive on time because small businesses are always open right on your way to and from work.
Small business owners are passionate about their business, making them experts in their field of choice. If you aren’t sure which style grill your dad wants or which pair of running shoes your brother needs, just ask a small business owner. He’ll be much more helpful than the seasonal worker who makes minimum wage at the big box store. Small business owners will have all the answers and all the best suggestions for everyone on your list.
6. Return policies
And in case you do end up picking the wrong item, your loved one can always exchange it for the right one at a small business. As part of their dedication to customer service, small businesses make it easy for you to return and exchange items until you are completely satisfied. Because they don’t have a distant corporate headquarters to answer to, business owners can make decisions about returns and exchanges quickly and personally, saving you time and money while making sure you walk away with the best gift.
7. More bonding time with your family
Aside from local retail stores, other small businesses in your community can become part of your holiday memories. Take your family to a local restaurant before the school Christmas play, or update your Christmas card with a family photo from a local photography studio. When it comes to small businesses, the possibilities are endless!
8. Support for local causes
In the true spirit of giving, small businesses donate about twice as much per employee to charitable organizations than large businesses, and they often keep their donations in the community. These donations happen throughout the year, but you can make a difference during the holidays by choosing small businesses that will support local causes.
9. Support for the environment
Many small businesses source their products from local or regional manufacturers, rather than relying on cross-country or international distribution systems. They also maintain smaller storefronts in shopping centers or standalone buildings, rather than building massive box stores that create urban sprawl and then deteriorate when the business moves on. This holiday season, give a gift to the environment and to future generations by supporting the sustainable business model that small businesses advocate.
10. Support for local workers
Small businesses currently employ 77 million Americans, and they accounted for 65 percent of all net new jobs over the past 17 years. These jobs go to local workers, not workers who will relocate from another state or country. When you spend your holiday budget at a local business, you’re giving local workers the gift of employment opportunities and prosperity.
Regardless of what community you live in and what winter holidays you celebrate, there are plenty of reasons for you to shop local this holiday season. When spent at a local business, your holiday budget can bring joy to your family and your community at the same time. Take the pledge to buy local, and start spreading holiday cheer in your community.
* Based on Civic Economics Andersonville Study of Retail Economics: When you spend $100 at an independent business, $68 returns to the local economy versus $43 when spent with a national chain. Based on U.S. Census projection of 115 million households.Google+