Did you know that there are nearly 32 million small businesses in the U.S.? 
The people working at these small businesses are your neighbors, fellow parents, taxpayers, the people volunteering at local events, and so much more. These are the people who make up your community, and when you support their businesses, your community is stronger for it.
While we often hear the importance of “shopping local” or “supporting small businesses,” what that looks like in practice can vary. Let’s look at some of the benefits of shopping locally and what you can do to support small businesses in your area.
Benefits of Shopping Local
One of the most significant benefits of shopping locally at small businesses is that you’re putting money right back into your local economy when you do. That money isn’t just going to the person running the business — it’s also paying the salaries of the people who work there, and there’s a good chance they also live locally. When you shop locally, you’re investing in the future of your community. The personal connections you can make when you support small businesses are also special. When you shop at a small, local business, you know that the owner is invested in ensuring their customers have a great experience — because they know customer loyalty is critical to building a thriving business. These business owners know both their products and services, as well as their customer base, exceptionally well. That means they can make recommendations and suggestions to meet your specific needs.
The personal touch is also something that consumers crave and often miss out on when shopping at big-box or corporate locations. Small businesses can provide a much more personal experience not easily found elsewhere. Whether it’s simply products and services that are unique or thoughtfully sending a personalized thank you note after purchase, there’s more latitude to ensure each customer has an experience that resonates.
One misconception people often have about shopping at small businesses is thinking they’ll spend more for the same thing they can get at the big box store down the street. Yes, sometimes things are more expensive, but that isn’t the case across the board. Small businesses often have lower overhead costs or source products locally, and these can actually keep costs down.
Ways You Can Support Small Businesses
Spread the Word
Word of mouth marketing is very important to local businesses. One of the simplest ways you can help promote a local business is by leaving a review online. Not only will this only take a few minutes of your time, but it’s totally free! Consumers are more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend or family member, so sharing your positive experiences with a small business is another way you can help increase their brand awareness and help get more customers through their door.
Pay It Forward with Gift Cards
Gift cards are a fantastic way to support your local small businesses for two reasons. Not only are you buying from them, which impacts their bottom line, but you’re also bringing in potential new customers if you’re using the card as a gift. Whether it’s a hair or nail salon, a massage studio, toy shop, or an art class, you can find a small business that suits what you’re searching for to give as a gift. As businesses rebound from pandemic-related closures, the purchase of a gift card can provide an immediate injection of cash into the business. Consider pre-paying for some of the services you normally use yourself (like a massage) by buying yourself gift cards to use for your next visit.
Take Advantage of Virtual Classes
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses that offered services were forced to move to a virtual approach. While many of us enjoy the in-person interactions of taking classes, a great time can still be had in a virtual environment. Fitness, cooking, wine tasting, art, and more can all be done from the comfort of your own home, and by registering for online classes, you’re able to support small businesses without incurring any risk.
Do you have a local shop that you love buying from? If so, why not buy a little something extra? Many businesses are playing catch up, trying to recover lost income, so some additional spending will be greatly appreciated. If you have regular items you buy, consider stocking up now. Or maybe try out some new products or services you’ve been curious about.
Get a Jump on Your Holiday Shopping
The holiday season is all about spreading joy, and what’s more joyful than giving someone an unexpected gift? One of the greatest things about local businesses is being able to find interesting or unusual items. This could be as simple as finding a candle in someone’s favorite scent or a plant to brighten up a home office. Check out a local pizza place to see if they do DIY pizza kits. See if your local bakery is offering any holiday treats. Starting on your shopping earlier is also an ideal opportunity to engage with the small business by asking for ideas and connecting with the people working for the business.
Ask How You Can Help
Small business owners are often known for being jacks of all trades and doing a lot of the background work on their own. If you want to support local businesses, consider any skills that may be of use to them. Maybe you’re a marketing expert who can help them with some ideas for their next campaign. Or maybe you’re a lawyer who can offer to look over any contracts for them. There are so many ways we can be of service to the small businesses in our community, so reaching out and offering a lending hand can be invaluable. If you already have an established relationship with any local small business owners, talk to them. Even if you don’t have the skills they need, you may know someone else who does.
Support Small Businesses to Uplift Your Community
Regardless of the reasons you choose to support small businesses, there’s one thing that holds true: your support can have a big impact on your community. By patronizing the businesses in your area, you can play a small role in ensuring your own community is vibrant and thriving.
Robert "Fenn" Giles, Jr., MBA, CIMA® is a founding partner of Wealth Advisors of Tampa Bay (WATB) and acts as the firm’s President and Chief Investment Officer. WATB is an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) located in Tampa, Florida. Learn more about them at wealthadvtb.com.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This material was prepared by Crystal Marketing Solutions, LLC, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate and is intended merely for educational purposes, not as advice.