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10 Reasons to Support Small Businesses This Holiday Season

Author: Jeremy Bowman | November 28, 2021

Two people holiday shopping in masks.

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It's that time of year

The holiday season is a crucial time for many retailers, but small businesses often rely on the gift-giving season more than the big-box retailers. After all, according to some definitions of the phrase, Black Friday is called that because it’s when small businesses get into the black, or turn profitable for the year.

Small businesses also don’t generally have the cash cushion or the financing resources that larger retailers do, making the season even more important. Let’s take a look at 10 reasons to support small businesses this time of year.

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1. Get to know your neighbors

Whether you’re visiting a local bakery, clothing store, or bookstore, supporting small businesses generally means shopping close to home. That gives you a chance to do business with those in your community. In many cases, the store owner or the person behind the counter could be one of your neighbors.

Shopping small, therefore, offers a social and community benefit that you can’t get by shopping at a Walmart or at home on Amazon. In addition to the chance to schmooze with your neighbors, you could learn about a holiday festival or some other event in your area.

ALSO READ: 4 Ways I'm Making the Holidays Less Expensive This Year

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Worker assisting customer in shop.

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2. Keep your money local

In addition to the social benefit of shopping at local stores, there’s a financial benefit for your community. When you shop online on Amazon, almost none of that money stays in your community. On the other hand, when you shop at a local small business, the money for the labor to run that store stays in your community, and the profits do as well. That creates a virtuous cycle, helping to support your own community and grow the small businesses you like the most.

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Person in suit is pumping gas.

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3. Save on gas money

Shopping at a big-box store often means a trip out to the mall and the requisite travel time that entails. With gas prices touching $3.40 per gallon on average across the country, that’s a good reminder to try to do some of your shopping closer to home, which often means shopping at small businesses. Some stores and restaurants may even be within walking distance. Skip the trip out to the mall and save a few bucks on gas money when you shop small this holiday season.

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Two people admiring jewelry in a display case.

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4. Find something unique

There are some advantages of shopping at the big-box stores or on Amazon. Prices are competitive. You know what you’re getting. There’s a wide selection.

But those kinds of shopping experiences lack the serendipity that a visit to an independent store can bring. Especially when you’re shopping for gifts, the chances of discovering a new, unexpected item are much higher at a small business, even more so if it’s one you haven’t been to before.

ALSO READ: 73% of Consumers Are Making This Savvy Move During the Holidays

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Person helping a customer in a store aisle.

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5. Get help from a knowledgeable employee

If you need some guidance in your holiday shopping or even if you’re just looking to buy something for yourself, you’re more likely to find it at a small business.

There’s a good chance the owner may be on the premises, and if not, you’re likely to find knowledgeable employees who will be happy to advise you on a gift for a loved one. At a big-box store, on the other hand, you’re unlikely to get that level of personal service from an employee.

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6. It's good karma

If you’re in business for yourself, you probably already know this benefit of shopping with local small businesses. After all, business owners tend to support businesses that support them. And if you’re not a business owner right now, you might have a business or an interest in one later in life, in which case it will help to have some contacts with other local business owners. Similarly, if you find yourself looking for a job down the road, it could be helpful to know some business owners in your area who could potentially offer you some work.

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Person smiling and sitting at table with cup of coffee and other people around.

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7. You're a job creator

The marginal dollar that you spend at Amazon or Walmart is unlikely to make a difference for that company, but that’s not true for small businesses. When you spend money with a small business, those dollars are going directly to support the wages of the people working in those stores. Your dollars are creating jobs in a much more direct way when you shop small than at a large chain.

ALSO READ: Some Consumers Plan to Spend an Extra $1,000 or More on This Year's Holidays. This 1 Move Could Help You Do That, Too

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Cashier smiling and wearing red glasses.

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8. Keep your community weird

Austin, Texas, made the slogan “Keep Austin Weird” famous, but that expression could just as easily apply to any other town or city. What it means is that small businesses are what make communities unique, while chain stores have a way of commoditizing a place. In this day and age, you can travel to any part of the country and see the same lineup of Starbucks cafes, Target stores, and AMC movie theaters, but a big part of what differentiates one city from another are independent businesses. By supporting those, you’re helping to retain some of the local flavor of your community, keeping it unique.

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Conveyer belt in a warehouse.

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9. No need to worry about shipping delays

Shopping online this time of year always comes with the risk that the item you want won’t arrive by Christmas, Hanukkah, or whenever your deadline is, but that’s especially true this year as supply chain constraints and labor shortages are making shipping times even longer than normal.

Picking up something at a local store means you don’t have to worry about your gift arriving on time, and shopping local also means it’s easy to return the gift if the receiver doesn’t like it.

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Worker assists man in trying on virtual reality headset.

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10. Have a new experience

Finally, you might find that supporting small businesses is a more fun way to get your holiday shopping done than shopping online or going to your local mall. You’re likely to discover some new stores, some fun gifts, and maybe even a couple things for yourself.

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be drudgery. Keep it new and fresh by supporting small businesses in your area.

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Make it a new tradition

Small businesses are the heart and soul of our communities, and supporting them not only benefits the local economy but is also an easy way to do something good for your community this holiday season.

You may find that you enjoy shopping small more than you expected, and your gift may be more appreciated. After all, it’s more interesting to receive a unique item from an independent business than something widely available on Amazon and the big-box chains.

Maybe shopping small will be your new holiday tradition.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Amazon, Starbucks, and Target. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Starbucks. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon, short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon, and short October 2021 $120 calls on Starbucks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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