Make a Difference. Shop Local This Holiday Season
The air is crisp, ski resorts are opening for the season, and peppermint-flavored everything is making its annual appearance on store shelves. It's official: the holidays are upon us. This year, the focus is on micro gatherings and virtual gatherings. And while we’re all seeking a bit of normalcy, this year is different. But difference can be good and one big silver lining of 2020 is the light it has shone on small, local businesses -- and their importance in communities. Enter holiday gift giving.
We have many, many options today when it comes to fast, inexpensive, and hassle-free shopping. However, shopping local has never been more important than this year. In the wake of COVID-19, many small local businesses across the world are struggling to just keep their doors open. According to data from Yelp, 163,735 businesses in the United States alone had closed as of August 31st because of the pandemic. Nearly 98,000 of them – over 60% – closed permanently. Those numbers are pretty grim, but we each have the power to change the outcome for other businesses that are still open.
It can be difficult to resist the temptation to shop at big-box and discount retailers, especially at this time of year. Everywhere you turn, there are convincing, catchy advertisements for the hottest toys, best new electronics, and the trendiest clothes at rock-bottom prices. Doing local holiday shopping isn't always as convenient and some things may cost a few dollars more than at a big-box retailer, but the minor sacrifice is well worth it. As you shop for your holiday meals, supplies, and gifts this Christmas, think local.
Shopping local boosts your local economy
When you spend your money at locally-owned stores, somewhere between 48-68% of each dollar is recirculated into the local economy. That number is less than 14% when you shop at national chains.
You are very literally supporting someone's livelihood when you shop locally. Not just any someone, but a business owner who also lives in your community. Instead of contributing to an already-wealthy CEO's stock shares or helping taxes be paid in another area, you're helping a local family buy groceries and put dinner on the table. It produces what's known as a "multiplier effect," as those groceries are likely to come from another independent local business. That business owner can then turn around and re-invest that revenue locally, and the cycle continues.
More exposure for local artists and vendors
There's a reason the term "starving artist" exists – talented creators often don't make much profit. That is, until they've gotten enough exposure to have a loyal following. Gifting items from local artists and small shop owners lets other people discover them. If you give someone a piece of artwork from a largely unknown local painter that they display in their home, other people may see it and fall in love with it, then seek out the artist and purchase a piece for themselves. Plus, the money you spend enables artists to buy additional supplies or helps vendors increase their marketing efforts. When it comes to local holiday shopping, everything truly has a direct domino effect.
Locally-sourced food is often healthier, more environmentally friendly and more unique
Are you a label reader? Do you look at the ingredient list on food items you purchase? If you are, then you’re also probably a fan of farmers markets and small, specialised food stores.
From locally-sourced produce, to baked goods to preserved items, local markets are filled with wonderful items for your holiday table and great giftables. Cranberry sauce made with cranberries from a nearby bog and with three ingredients - these are the kind of products we can get behind. Especially when they’re hand-packaged in reusable jars with hand-written labels.
This same concept translates to dairy and meat products, so consider purchasing your holiday turkey or ham from a local butcher and shop, access farm-fresh eggs from small, local producers, as well as wonderful cheese and dairy items.
Locally-sourced food also doesn't have to be transported thousands of miles, making it more environmentally-friendly. Local food has so many benefits.
Shop local for more personalized service
Good customer service seems to be a dying art, at least in terms of big-box retailers. Small, local businesses, on the other hand, often take great pride in their customer relationships. You probably won't be addressed by name when you walk into a big chain store, but the owner of the local hardware shop will likely remember the bathroom remodel you were doing last month or that your son's soccer team went to the regional championship.
Aside from the obvious benefits of having this type of rapport with local business owners, it can really come in handy when it comes to holiday shopping. You're much more likely to find a one-of-a-kind, personalized, or hard-to-find gift at a small, independently-owned business. There's definitely something to be said for giving a unique present as opposed to something being advertised on every other television commercial.
Shopping local gives back to the local community
According to American Express and the Small Business Administration (SBA), an overwhelming majority of small businesses – 75% – donate about 6% of their profits to local charities. Instead of large international organizations that get a substantial amount of funding, small businesses tend to donate directly to local schools, parks, teams, and even families in need.
This Christmas, buy local
Not only does your dollar stretch a lot further when it's spent locally, but you'll get more satisfaction knowing your gift was meaningful on several levels. It was hand-picked, not a mass-produced item that everyone has, and it directly supported people in your community. Along the same lines, the recipient of your gift will know you went out of your way to find it and will appreciate it even more.
Local holiday shopping extends beyond strictly purchasing items in stores. It also means choosing to patronize local restaurants and even supporting local, responsible travel. Coast Hotels is a network of unique hotels -- and many of our franchises are small businesses. We deeply believe in the importance of local, small businesses in fueling community, connection, character and local economies. As you think about gift giving this holiday, please consider supporting small local businesses. Many are hanging on by their fingernails, and your purchase could be difference making.