Making Holiday Shopping Local

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

A young woman, shopping in a downtown area wearing facemasks for protection.
Picking out just the right gifts for family and friends is part of the joy that is woven into the holiday season. Presents are placed under the tree, tucked into stockings and delivered in person and onto doorsteps.
While the coronavirus pandemic will change how holiday gatherings look for a lot of families this year, the tradition of gift giving will continue. This year, retailers say it is more important than ever to shop local and support small businesses. The statewide stay-home order earlier this year designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 also meant many local businesses had to close for several weeks or operate at reduced capacity. Small business owners felt the economic pinch during that time, and having a strong holiday season is vital to many of them.
Michigan has more than 873,000 small businesses across its two peninsulas, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. They make up more than 99% of Michigan-based businesses and employ more than 1.9 million people in towns large and small.
On Nov. 28, the U.S. will celebrate these small but mighty parts of our economy with Small Business Saturday, a shopping holiday that is held annually during one of the busiest times of the year for gift-buying. People are encouraged to shop local, seek out small businesses or restaurants in their community, or place an online order from an in-state business. In 2018, consumer spending on Small Business Saturday hit nearly $18 billion – a record high, according to a survey from the National Federation of Independent Business. 

Why is shopping local so important? 

There’s a joke about small towns being places where the same money keeps changing hands month after month. But that represents the power of local investment. It underscores many of the reasons why shopping small businesses in your area is so important. When you shop local, you support: 
  • Creating and keeping jobs in your community.
  • Funneling tax dollars into your area, which makes schools, libraries and recreational opportunities stronger.

Tips for shopping local 

Taking advantage of the array of small businesses in your area can be a real win-win for your holiday shopping. Whether you are headed to a big downtown or a small city with just a handful of stores, you are sure to find some unique items while doing your part to support the local economy during what’s been a tough year for some. By doing your shopping close to home, you’re bound to find some perks. Here are some tips for making the most of your holiday budget:
  • Watch local stores’ social media pages. You’ll likely see updates on longer holiday shopping hours and special deals they’re offering.
  • Many small stores will gift-wrap items for free during the holidays. If you don’t see it advertised, ask a salesperson.
  • Don’t feel comfortable going into a store? Local clerks will often take orders and payments over the phone and offer curbside pickup.
  • Need a gift delivered? Some local businesses will ship holiday packages and attach your personalized message.
  • Can’t decide on a present? Gift cards to local stores and restaurants make great gifts.
Photo credit: Getty

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