Small businesses often find themselves at a disadvantage compared to large retailers. They usually don’t have the budget to offer free two-day shipping and other perks, so many customers pass them up for the convenience of shopping at online stores like Amazon.
But small businesses were hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 40% had to close temporarily, and 39% have had to reduce their active employment. That’s why this year, it’s more important to support local small businesses than ever.
Of course, many Americans have taken a financial hit as a result of the pandemic. So if you find yourself with a limited budget for the holiday shopping season, let’s look at seven ways you can still support local businesses.
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1. Leave an Online Review
One of the best ways to support a local small business is by leaving a positive Google review. A Google Business listing plays a considerable role in a company’s online visibility.
After all, 97% of people will search online for a local business. And 86% will use Google Maps to search for businesses.
When you leave a positive Google review for a business, it helps improve their SEO ranking and increase their online credibility. Positive reviews help level the playing field and help new customers become aware of a business they might not have heard of.
So if there’s a local small business you love, but additional shopping isn’t in the cards for you this year, that’s okay. Leaving them a positive review can help increase their business, and you won’t have to spend a dime.
2. Share an Experience on Social Media
In addition to leaving a positive review, you can share a positive experience on social media with your friends and followers. For instance, if there’s a local clothing store that designs unique children’s clothes that you love, why not share about it online?
You may think that people will ignore these types of recommendations, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Studies show again and again that people are highly influenced by recommendations from trusted friends and family members. And you never know who might be looking for a service exactly like the one you’re sharing about.
If you decide to share about a local small business on social media, make sure to increase the exposure as much as possible. Be sure to tag the business in your post and use hashtags like #ShopLocal and #BuyingLocal.
3. Purchase a Gift Card
If you’re a parent, then you probably have teachers and instructors that you want to buy gifts for. After all, these are people who take excellent care of your kids all year long, so you want to show your appreciation.
Why not purchase a gift card at a local small business? For instance, if there’s a nearby local coffee shop you love, why not buy a few $10 gift cards for your kids’ classroom teachers?
Even small purchases help support a local business, and you may be opening someone’s eyes to a business they weren’t previously aware of.
4. Host an Event at a Local Business
Do you host a monthly book club or attend a business meeting? If so, you might consider hosting a monthly event at a local small business. Of course, your ability to host an event will depend on the local restrictions in your state.
But even hosting a small get-together at a local business can help bring awareness to their store. This will take more time and effort to plan and put together, but it can be a great way to build connections in your local community and support a small business.
5. Sign up for their email list
Another free way to support a local business is by signing up for their email list. Most business owners offer a weekly or monthly newsletter, and they probably put a lot of thought into creating these.
When you join their email list, you’ll receive up-to-date information about that business. You’ll learn about any new products they have coming out or any current sales they have going on. This is a great way to show your support and learn about any upcoming sales or events.
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6. Look for Small Businesses on Amazon
Did you know that Amazon highlights small businesses on its Shop Local page? You can search based on the region you live in and by category. You can also look specifically for women-owned, blacked-owned, or military family-owned businesses if you want.
Checking out Amazon’s “Shop Local” page is a great way to learn about local businesses you’ve never heard of before. And you may find all sorts of unique gift ideas you would never have thought of otherwise.
7. Create a Budget
If you want to support local small businesses without spending too much, my final tip for you is to come up with a budget. Hopefully, you already have a holiday sinking fund in place. But if not, figure out how much you can afford to spend and stick within those guidelines.
Once you review your spending and figure out your financial priorities, you may find that you have more money to spend on the holidays than you initially thought. Coming up with a budget is the best way to support local businesses and still feel good about your financial decisions.
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The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that if we want local small businesses, we have to be willing to support them. The holiday season is a great time to show your appreciation for local businesses, but it doesn’t have to stop there.
As much as we all love stores like Target and Amazon, try to prioritize shopping locally throughout the year. These businesses will appreciate your support, and you’ll help ensure that your community continues to benefit from their services.