Do yourself and your neighbor a favor, Shop Small Business Saturday

Saturday, Nov 30 is an important day. It is a day we can all go out and make our communities a little better, a little stronger by using our economic power.

Nov. 30 – the Saturday after Thanksgiving – is Small Business Saturday, a day set aside for people to put off trips to the box stores and online retailers and concentrate on buying things locally, in stores owned and operated by our friends and neighbors.

Small Business Saturday is an annual tradition introduced by American Express in 2010. As part of its Shop Small movement, the intent is to strengthen local communities by supporting small businesses within them.

There are lots of great reasons to shop at local, independently owned retail outlets. If you read our friend Peter Rose’s column each month, he will explain them all.

His main reasoning is that it has been proven that dollars spent at local shops recirculate in the community far, far more than dollars spent at national retailers and certainly farther than money spent online.

And that’s true. 

But as a selfish consumer, I really am most concerned about how my shopping choices directly affect me. 

How many times have you seen your exact same serving bowl, kitchen towel, or patio furniture at someone else’s house? Or shown up with your child to another child’s birthday party bearing the same gift that one (or more) other people also purchased?

Chances are this has happened more than once if you do most of your shopping in large department stores or online.

The reason prices are lower on products from the big retailers is due to volume. Yes, they sell more, so their average costs are lower, but they have more because those items are mass produced.

I don’t think every single item a person owns has to make a personal statement, however, I also don’t want to be a clone of every other person I know.

Local retailers often carry one-of-a-kind items from local artisans. When I buy those items, I not only add something unique to my own life, I support a creative individual who can then continue to innovate and create new and unique items.

And, the simple truth is that I often grow weary at looking at the same old products. The pants at Macey’s look just like the ones at Target. The sweatshirts at Dicks look just like the ones at Dunhams. The dishes at Walmart look just like the ones at Meijer.

It is all a bit tiresome.

We’re all about to give a great many gifts to friends and loved ones and through the years, I know the ones that have been best received are ones that are the unique finds, the ones that have been bought at out-of-the -way places. I know those are the gifts I like best to receive, too.

So do some local shopping on Nov. 30. Make a day of it. Grab your mother or your kids and browse. Buy some gifts, stop at a candy shop. Have lunch or dinner and maybe a drink.

You’ll have a good time, I guarantee it. You’ll also feel good about your purchases and your local retailers will thank you for it.

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