Small businesses are always banging on about supporting small and shopping local, aren’t they? Why? Well primarily because we want you to buy our stuff so we can make a living (d’uh). Personally, I also feel that it’s morally the right thing to do.
We live in a fast paced, consumer led world. People expect to be able to buy what they want, when they want and have it delivered the next day. When it comes to gift giving we lament that we already have everything we want and need, but nevertheless provide our friends and family with a list of new wants. Gift giving is expensive as we feel pressure to hand over bigger, better and more presents. Is the art of gift giving lost? Why is accepting a small, thoughtful gift with grace more difficult than the joy of receiving the expensive ‘want’ from your list?
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and over stimulated in this crazy world of ours. To be caught in the frantic rat race of life and commercialism can be exhausting, and the human touch is so easily lost. We shop frantically, desperate to tick tasks off the never ending ‘to do’ list. We are drowning in a sea of mass marketing, over packaging and next day delivery. So let’s try to remember who we are buying gifts for and why. Let’s enjoy shopping for gifts and devote the time and energy our family and friends deserve to choosing gifts we think they would love. Let’s strive to buy thoughtful gifts from independent businesses and businesses from within our own communities. Why? Here are my top three reasons:
1. It’s better for the local economy
A high proportion of money spent in local shops goes back into the local economy, simply by virtue of the business owners spending that money in the local community. As a result, local businesses thrive, safeguarding local jobs and stimulating further local employment. Making an active choice to shop in small businesses in person or online (as opposed to large multinationals), is a boost to local economies and communities across the country.
2. It’s better for the environment
Local business tend to have lower carbon footprints; they are more like to source products or produce locally and have a shorter field to fork (or factory to floor) journey. It takes significantly less resources to transport one box of stock containing 50 items to one shop, than to individually send those items to 50 different households using next day delivery. Independent businesses are more likely to be plastic free or use recycled packaging. As an extra bonus they can often be in walking distance and you can take your own reusable bags.
3. It’s better for the consumer
Independent businesses have a range of products not always seen in larger chain stores. They sell unique, creative and personalised products quite different from mass produced ‘fast’ fashion and ‘fast’ living items. Plus, small business owners are a gregarious bunch and you get great service and a chance to chat to someone new and interesting online or in person. You might find that the business runs workshops or events you can get involved with. Then, all of a sudden, your shopping has moved from frantic multi-tasking on your phone from the sofa to a mindful, enjoyable experience chatting to creative and interesting humans!
Why not give it a try: pop into town and browse your local high street, visit an artisan market or ask your friends about their favourite small businesses. What have you got to lose?