‘Tis the season for Christmas trees, cozying around the fire and peppermint everything. Oh, and we can’t forget: shopping for presents. Maybe you scour all year looking for the perfect present for a friend or family member or maybe you woke up on November 1st realizing Christmas was less than 2 months away. Whatever end of the spectrum you fall on, Christmas shopping is upon us.
Now, I’ll be honest with you. In years past, before owning my business, I would quickly hop on Amazon or run to Target to grab the perfect gift for my family. It was easy and fast and the options were endless. But this year, my mindset has changed. As a small business owner, I realize the importance more than ever of supporting small businesses who make unique and carefully curated items. Sure, that cozy pair of socks from Target is an easy find and only $6.00, but there are thousands of small business owners out there who would love creating a special and truly one-of-a-kind gift for you. Whether it’s custom mugs, tea towels, and blankets or handcrafted jewelry and clothing, there is a gift for everyone on your list. And let me tell you, the gifts I have received in the past that were truly something unique and handmade are my most treasured and remembered gifts.
Shopping small doesn’t have to be complicated. Thanks to the wonderful world of the Internet, almost every small business is now online with an eCommerce store. So, with the same amount of effort it would take you to click ‘add to cart’ on Amazon, you can now shop from a smaller business with the same amount of ease and speed. It’s really so simple and I guarantee that the pieces you find from shopping small will be made with more love and care than any $6.00 item you find at Target.
With all that said, are you ready to dive into 4 reasons to shop small?
4 Reasons to Shop Small
Connection and Engagement:
Unlike huge box retailers and corporate chains, in small business there is a real life face-to-face human on the other side of your transaction. Many times small businesses are a team of one (like me) or a small team of around five, so every order placed and every email written is read by a real-life human being who is engaging with you. That means that what you order is being made with heart and soul and so much love. That small business owner is pouring themselves into their work and wants to connect with you through it.
Stellar Customer Service:
To go along with #1, because you are likely connecting with one person or a small team, if any issues or questions arise, you can bet they’ll be on it. No one works harder for customer satisfaction than a small business owner. Just peruse through the review sections of Etsy shops and you’ll find business owners who resent lost packages or recreated orders that weren’t to complete satisfaction. Small business owners go above and beyond what it necessary because they truly value and rely on their customer’s support.
We all have that one friend or family member who is difficult to shop for. They already own everything they need or want or they’re super picky and specific. Cue: small businesses. There is more than likely a small business owner out there who can create or has already created exactly what you’re looking for. Small businesses have brain power and creative capacity unlike any corporate retailer and likely already sell or can make something to match your exact need. So, does your niece love walruses wearing cowboy hats but you have no idea how to shop for that? There is probably a graphic designer, embroidery artist, or watercolor artist who can create exactly that gift for your niece and she will open her present ecstatic that something was made specially for her.
Supporting and Lifting Up Others:
Every purchase you make from a small business supports a person’s dream. Believe me, every time a new order comes through my shop I get so excited. I immediately call my mom and then can’t wait for Zach to get home to tell him the good news. It might seem kinda crazy and a little overkill, but a placed order is somebody out there affirming that they like what I am offering and are supporting my creative passions. I have never met a small business owner that takes their sales for granted. Whether it’s their first sale ever or their one-thousandth, the excitement and gratitude is still palpable. Each purchase is an opportunity to encourage someone to continue creating and sharing their passion with others.
Where to Shop Small
Etsy is my favorite platform because it’s everything handmade all in one place. Etsy is a perfectly curated website for small business owners and shoppers alike. Whether you’re looking for jewelry, clothing, or home decor, you’ll likely find it on Etsy and it’s all made by a small business. Etsy is also a search engine, so finding what you need is relatively simple.
Most small business owners likely have social media in the form of Instagram or Facebook. In the words of entrepreneur, Jenna Kutcher, Instagram and Facebook are like the ‘handshake’ of a business and the opportunity to impress upon shoppers their offers. Within the first few posts, you’ll likely have an idea of what that business has to offer and you’ll know if it’s a good fit. One of my favorite parts of social media is that you not only get to see the product or service displayed like a portfolio, but you also get to learn about the maker and creator as well as have a sneak peek of the behind the scenes. It gives a whole new level of connection and appreciation to the work.
Hashtags are also a great way to find what you’re looking for. For instance, if you hashtag #embroideryart, you’ll find hundreds of artists sharing their work and that can help you narrow down and find the right artist and shop for you.
Within your town, there are usually a few boutique stores that are small business themselves or a larger store that sells artists and makers products. Love that adorable mug or cute planner in the shop? It’s likely created by a small business and being sold through a boutique store front. Support your neighbors and local economy by visiting locally owned shops or purchasing pieces provided by other artisans.
Craft Fairs and Farmers Markets
Similar to local shops and boutique stores, artisan craft fairs and farmers markets are a great place to find handmade and one-of-a-kind pieces. You’ll find an assortment of pottery, paintings, woodworking, textile and fiber arts, and more. Craft fairs and farmers markets are a wonderful way to meet the artist and maker face-to-face and see their works for yourself. I always have a greater appreciation for art when I have the opportunity to speak with the artist about the skill and time it takes to create a piece. Craft fairs and farmers markets are also a great way to make sure that every penny you are paying as a customer is going towards the small business.
Get Started Shopping Small
With all of that said, it’s time to start shopping small and making conscious purchasing decisions this season. Before you jump onto Amazon or run to Target, pause and first ask yourself if you can buy this same item through a small business. Or maybe this is the year of purchasing unique items. I can tell you from experience, your support and kindness is never forgotten.
Shop My Work
Pop-on over to Etsy and you’ll find all of pieces ready to be created and shipped to you.