Unique Christmas Gift Ideas | Five reasons you should shop local this holiday season
Ever heard that phrase “When you buy from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance?”
It could not be more true. As small business owners our livelihood depends on people choosing to support us by buying local products and services rather than purchasing from the big box stores and multi-national companies. Ten years into my business, I still get excited when a new booking comes in, or a gift voucher is purchased. I notice each and every booking that comes through my diary and I never take a single one for granted. Do the big department stores care about your purchase? If they lose out on one sale will it affect their business? I can confidently tell you that they wouldn’t even notice.
It’s the difference between buying your coffee from a big chain or choosing instead to support your local coffee shop. Or buying a card at your small neighbourhood gift shop instead of a box store. (If you haven’t heard of the #justacard campaign, you should really check it out here, but the premise is that if every person who commented on how lovely a local gift shop or gallery is bought only a card, more of these shops would manage to remain open.) We notice, I promise, and we appreciate your support more than you’ll ever know.
Besides supporting the local economy (more important than ever with Brexit looming before us!), you are supporting a single person or a small team of people who have put more blood, sweat and tears into making a career out of their creative passion than most people can imagine. You are helping that person and those people to achieve their dreams, instead of helping a multi-million pound corporation add another zero to their year end figures. You are making it possible for the little guy/gal to make a real go at selling a unique product or service in a world of generic big brands and corporations.
“Choosing to support an independent business is an act of respect; it’s acknowledging the tremendous risk and challenges inherent to starting your own thing.” – Matt Kliegman
Aside from supporting us small business owners though, there are SO many reasons to support local businesses that benefit YOU and your loved ones too. Here are a few of the biggest benefits of buying locally for your Christmas gifts this holiday season:
How disappointing is it to get a gift you already have? Or worse- to receive two of the same gift on the same occasion? As disappointing as it can be to receive duplicates, it’s a worse feeling to be on the giving end of those gifts. Buying a product or service from a local small business means there is a LOT less chance that your loved one already has it or will receive it from someone else. This is my number one for shopping from small gift shops and businesses rather than big box stores, for both cards and gifts, and always has been- long before I was a small business owner myself! If you buy a locally made product, chances are it will be more creative, more original and more unique than the things you can buy at a big box store. The more unique the gift, the more tailored it can be to suit the specific likes of the person you’re buying for.
As a general rule, small business owners crafting local products are not mass producing them. They are probably creating their products by hand, whether they are the sole worker or have a small team, and the quality will reflect that. Small batches of things like gin or chocolate are well sought after, and they should be! There is extra care that goes into a product with only limited numbers made, and that quality cannot be mimicked by mass produced products. And back to that subject of uniqueness- there will be a lot less of each one made, so you are a lot less likely to find someone else with the same product.
Three: Customer Service & Experience
When you buy from a small business, there isn’t a customer service department you call and sit on hold with for ages listening to bad music. Chances are if you have a question or complaint you will be dealing with the owner of the business her/himself, and they’ll be wanting to do everything they can to make sure you are satisfied with the outcome. Customer service is a top priority for most small businesses, as even one bad experience or review can be detrimental in a small community. In terms of experience, chances are you’ll have a better one. Small business are more likely to tailor a product specific to your needs, or to help you choose something that suits you. You’ll get a much more personal experience than you will at a big chain store, that’s for certain!
Four: Ethical Manufacturing & Sourcing
I mentioned supporting the local economy above, which does affect each and every one of us individually. Local products and services are created by people who live locally, and as such are earning a fair wage. You aren’t supporting sweat shops or child labour if you shop locally, and environmentally you are helping too- with less transportation and shipping costs there is less negative impact on our planet. Most small businesses try to use other local suppliers for their products where possible, so by supporting them you are supporting all the other businesses they support too.
Five: Building Community & Giving Back
Small business owner Sandeep Salter says it best: “You want to shop and live near places that actually mean things to people; places that have a real effect on communities. You can feel when someone really cares about the neighbourhood they’re running a business in.” This could not be more true, and by giving a gift from a local business you will hopefully encourage the recipient of your gift to consider doing the same in their own neighbourhood, in turn bettering their own community. There have been numerous studies done that show small businesses are adamant about giving back to their communities, probably because we are so thankful for the support of the people around us. Whether it’s volunteering their time/services, contributing products or donating money, some of these studies have discovered that as high as 90% of small local businesses give back to their community in one of these capacities. By supporting your local business, you are also supporting your own community. I can speak personally to this- I currently volunteer my time and skills with two very important non-profit organizations, Remember My Baby and Butterfly Wishes Network, and I also offer a number of complimentary gift vouchers for charity events. I am happy to report that my fellow local business owners all give back in their own ways too, and we are always open for new opportunities to help out in the city and country we live in.
Holiday fundraiser for the Scottish greyhound sanctuary I volunteered by time to.
Next week’s blog post is all about my favourite local (Glasgow & Scotland) products and services and the things that will be under my tree this Christmas season. Check back to hear all about them!