Why (and How) You Should Shop Small This Season


Only 10 days until the “C Word,” and you need some last minute things.

If you intended to support small, local businesses, this couldn’t be a better time. In fact, you probably KNOW a lot of people in business for themselves. In the last ten years, small businesses accounted for 63% of new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

But that’s boring stuff. Let’s talk about shopping…


Prunella’s Workshop

Dressy Isles

Foreen Photography

Make time to visit the shops where they sell.  If you don’t know anyone personally, hit those last-minute craft fairs or cruise down main street.

There are also ways to support small businesses without leaving your home. You could buy from Etsy, Amazon or Ebay, or visit their social media page to buy a gift certificate (or two).

Here are some things you should know about small retailers.



  1. They love cash. If you’re shopping at a farmer’s market or craft fair, consider paying with cash. Even though many vendors can use a credit card, they’re paying a percentage of the profits to offer this convenience.
  2. They’re not sweatshops. My father sells decorative wooden boxes. Last year, he let me sell some at our school craft fair as a fundraiser. This year, the school skipped the craft fair, but I got a call from a customer wanting a bunch of boxes… pronto! (I remembered her because she stood by the table telling me how she could have done the boxes better.) My father and I both explained that there was no way we could give her what she wanted. We worked out of the basement!
  3. Your purchases make an impact! Remember that boring statistic up at the top of this post? These people selling soap, jewelry, and upcycled furniture are selling these items to make money. When you buy their wares, you’re buying their groceries, paying their rent, and making the holidays merry and bright for their families. $7 might seem like a lot of money for a crocheted baby hat, but you should know how much time and energy went into making it, paying to attend a craft fair, printing up business cards, etc. Besides, the clock is ticking – are you really going to make one that nice a week before you need it?
  4. It’s non-negotiable. Haggling with a small retailer? Not cool. Their goods and services are priced to compete, and they are at a huge disadvantage against “big box” stores. If you’re buying from family or friends, be a friend indeed and pay the asking price.
  5. Don’t forget the service providers. If you don’t want to buy more “stuff” for your friends and families, consider buying a photography session, a house cleaning, or how about a website from a local graphic designer? (Oooh!) Buy your niece’s iPad app – Hey! That’s a gift for her and for someone else. And if you know someone who writes books… well, you get the idea.

    Soap Passion

    Soap Passion

If your intention is to spread some holiday cheer and give a unique gift, it’s not too late to go small and local. In fact, there’s no better time. Happy Holidays!

Don’t forget to like Lynn van Lier Author on Facebook – and all of your other hardworking small businesses, too!


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