There’s no shame in shopping at Home Depot, Barnes and Noble or Best Buy. Or in placing a quick online order with Amazon for those times when you absolutely need a gift delivered overnight.
We’d be lying if we didn’t occasionally shop these national chains for the convenience, the occasional big sale or simply for the wide inventory they carry.
But at the end of the day, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as shopping at a local business. And there’s nothing quite as important to the local economy as patronizing a local store.
Small businesses are the backbone of a community. They’re mostly independent firms and shops run by people who are more aligned with the community than a board of directors or a corporate mentality. These shop owners are your neighbors, someone you might run into at a PTA meeting or community gathering.
That’s the premise behind Small Business Saturday, happening this weekend on local main streets across the country. Now in its ninth year, Small Business Saturday was launched by American Express to “encourage people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses,” according to the credit card company’s website.
According to a 2018 study conducted for American Express, two-thirds of every dollar spent at a small business — defined as a business with fewer than 100 employees — remains in the local community. So when you buy a book at a local shop, a coffee at a neighborhood cafe or a dress at a downtown store, you’re not only supporting that business, but you’re most likely helping the owner’s family, the charity that business sponsors and the store’s ability to hire others who live nearby.
Let’s face it: Main streets across the country are under siege from the high-volume, low-cost big-box stores. It’s not easy for a local shopkeeper to compete on that level. That’s why we see the number of storefront vacancies in our small cities and towns that we do.
But small stores, the mom-and-pop shops of America, often offer better service and a curated inventory that provides a better customer experience that is usually worth a dollar or two more.
Here in Frederick, the shop local idea starts a day earlier with Frosty Friday, a daylong kickoff to the holiday shopping season. There are dozens of things to do all day, starting with special breakfasts at restaurants and later roasting s’mores at nine locations and enjoying live music and cocktails downtown. And yes, stores and restaurants will be open early and close late. A free trolley will circulate every 15 minutes. The Downtown Frederick Partnership’s website has complete details.
No offense to the big-box stores and national chains, but this sounds a lot more interesting and fun than standing in the long lines. Shopping small makes more dollars and sense for the local economy.
Our community will benefit from your support, and you’ll be able to see the return on investment a lot sooner than if you just shopped at those big-box chains.