Small Business Saturday & Look Local

How do you feel about Black Friday shopping? After a few unsuccessful years of attempting to shop and becoming increasingly annoyed with the earlier hours of corporate America, I successfully avoided the insanity this year. Of course there are many ways to avoid the craziest shopping day of the year, even if you still want to shop. Obviously, online shopping is an option. But, consider this: local shopping.

Today is Small Business Saturday, a campaign begun in 2010 by American Express in order to encourage consumers to shop locally, educate people about the benefits of local shopping and to provide resources to small businesses. American Express provides incentives for its customers to follow through with local shopping at qualified local businesses, when using the American Express credit card, of course. Find businesses here. And read FAQ here.

Of course, American Express isn’t the only reason to “shop small” today. The benefits of shopping locally are endless: keeping money in your community, keeping your local economy healthy with jobs and commerce, encouraging new business, creating a vibrant and sustainable place to live, developing relationships with businesses and fellow shoppers, helping to create a sense of place in your town, better customer service, and more. And whether it’s one purchase that you can change or the majority of your purchases, every effort makes a difference.

Not all of us can stroll up and down a main commercial street where we live; need help with shopping locally? Download the iPhone app, Look Local, created by The 3/50 Project. You can search by location for eateries, stores and other services.

Look Local iphone app screenshot.

Look Local app menu

How do you feel about small stores? I’ll confess, sometimes it can feel strange walking into a small boutique or small store and not buying anything. Right? Sometimes you feel pressure to buy something, even if you really just want to look around, even if there is only perceived pressure. Whereas in a big store you can wander around with no one watching you. It takes practice to get over that feeling, if it’s been an issue for you. Think of it this way: if you were a store owner wouldn’t you rather someone come in to take a look rather than not come in at all? That person could be a potential customer, someone who is just browsing that particular day. Small business owners and employees always seem welcoming to people, in my experience, new customers or repeat customers. My advice: don’t worry. Just walk in, browse and take a mental note of what is in the store. If you can, remember the store next time you are shopping and become a customer if it’s a store you enjoy. 

If you care about your local economy, your quality of life, your sense of place and the economic health of your community, do some of your holiday (and everyday) shopping locally. It’ll make you feel good. Trust me. Good luck! And feel free to share any local shopping advice in the comments.