If you follow small businesses on Instagram, you will no doubt come across a popular saying: ‘when you buy from a small business, an actual person does a happy dance’.
It’s a popular saying because it’s true: the dollars you spend with a small business really count. They pay the bills, they contribute to wages for employees, they help small business owners buy Christmas presents for their own family.
Those dollars make a difference at what is a busy and often stressful time. We know from recent research from Prospa that almost half of all small business owners will only be taking a break from work on the public holidays this Christmas — that’s if they even take a holiday at all. It’s a hard slog, and it has probably been that way for months.
We may be biased here at SmartCompany, but we think there is nothing better than shopping small at Christmas. And there are other things you can also do to support small businesses over the coming weeks.
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Here are six ways to support your favourite small businesses this festive season.
1. Buy from them
It’s stating the obvious, but choose to do your Christmas shopping with small, independent businesses this year.
Visit shops in your local community instead of the discount department stores and swap big name brands for locally made and ethically produced gifts. Spend time researching online to find small businesses that make one-of-a-kind items that will last.
2. Like and share their social posts
Instagram has become a necessary marketing tool for small businesses and this isn’t going to change anytime soon. But it can be hard for small businesses, especially micro ones, to stand out among the crowd.
So next time you are scrolling and see something you like from a small business, spend the extra few seconds liking their post, or better yet, sharing it. If you have bought from them, or been given one of their products, share a photo and tag them. Show them some love and help their posts reach more people.
3. Leave a review
If you prefer words over photos, why not leave a small business a Google or Facebook review this Christmas? If you’ve enjoyed your shopping experience in their store, or were impressed with the food at their cafe, tell them.
Your recommendation might just be the thing that convinces another shopper or diner to place their order.
4. Place an order with your local butcher and greengrocer
Christmas is all about top quality, fresh food and it’s prime time to pay your local grocer, butcher or fishmonger a visit. Make a point of celebrating with local produce this year and reflect on how by doing so, you are supporting local growers and producers. Just make sure you get organised quickly — you’ll need to get your orders in soon to secure fresh prawns or a top-notch ham!
5. Be a tourist in your own town… or someone else’s
If you are lucky enough to be travelling this Christmas, make a point of visiting the small businesses in the town or city you are visiting. Spend time (and money) in the local cafes and plan a day out visiting local museums, galleries and tourist attractions.
If you are staying closer to home, be a tourist in your own town. When was the last time you and your family spent the day exploring the place you call home, visiting a locally owned gallery or wildlife sanctuary, for example? Pretend you are seeing your hometown for the first time and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at all the local tourist-based businesses you can support.
6. Think about the people behind the counter
Finally, spare a thought for the small business owners and their staff who are working around the clock this holiday season.
It doesn’t cost anything to say a friendly hello and not kick up a fuss if you need to wait longer than normal to be served, but it will make their day that little bit brighter.