Once upon a time, before I was a small business, I didn't actually appreciate and support small business. At least not in the way we all should. Through college and my early 20's when I made purchases with my hard earned cash they were impulsive, immediate, completely trendy, and as cheap as possible. I recently re-watched The Devil Wears Prada and remembered how back in 2006 I just had to have that weird folding shoulder bag Anne Hathaway wears in the movie and spent a week finding some ridiculously cheap version online. I mean that's the beauty of online shopping...impulsive, immediate, trendy and cheap. Am I right?
But while I don't expect the world to abstain from Amazon, Walmart or Hobby Lobby full time, I am going to discuss why it's important to shop small and the perks to being a consumer who shops small. It takes intention and at times small business products can cost a couple dollars more too, but the benefits are important. More importantly, the perks aren't just benefiting the small shop, but the community and consumer too. So without further ado here are 5 reasons to shop small.
1. Small Business Employs More Than Half of the U.S. Working Population
As of 2018, the Small Business Administration estimated that small businesses employ roughly 58.9 million workers. So ultimately when you shop small business you are supporting your neighbors, community, the US economy and yourself. Shopping small helps put your spending money back into economical growth ensuring more job availability across the United States and higher employment rates. In addition, when shopping small, you often shop local too. (Now in the case of Munga Vision and other small maker shops, our products are available online too so this next tax point is not always applicable unless a same state resident.) Shopping local means that these stores taxes are benefiting your community immediately and consistently.
2. Better Customer Service and Expertise
When I moved to North Carolina I started to make a conscious effort to always use my local town's hardware supply store before going to Home Depot. The difference in customer service and knowledge was astounding. More often then not when you go to a Home Depot or Lowe's and ask for help on a project you get sent on some wild goose chase of 14 aisles to search, 3 employees to debate ideas and less of a solution. I am not knocking the employees of these establishments and I appreciate the effort every time I do visit a chain hardware store, but I am pointing out that many (not all) employees of these larger companies work in this field for a paycheck more than a passion. They just don't have the same investment to be able to answer your strange questions accordingly.
In contrast, every time I have visited my local hardware store, Hudson's, with a random question I have immediately received the perfect response and led to where the product is located. The difference behind the customer service is the knowledge and passion. This small, local store has loyal employees who love their job and store so remain knowledgable.
As a maker I often work with a lot of local shops to consign my work too. There are dozens of times where I get a call to customize something that was seen in the store or a special request made of allowing them to mix and match my products. Both the store owners and myself all bend over backwards because customer satisfaction is one of the most important things to us small business owners. We are a community dedicated in giving every client the royal treatment.
3. The Ultimate Creators
When you hear the terms innovator and patents you tend to think of employees at Google or Apple, but according to the SBA "small businesses produced 16 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms." So when you support the little guy's new ideas and products you are helping innovation as these companies bring new functionality and ideas to advance society. It's a pretty cool shop small fact!
4. Quality Products
My most hated commentary I hear in regards to my products and other artists and shop owners is the dreaded, "That's too expensive. I can get that at X for $12." And you know what...this is usually true. As an art and stationery shop I always try to price my products competitively, but I don't work for free and our cost margins are higher. Most small shop owners are the makers, advertisers, IT gurus, accountants and social media experts all in one. That's a lot of positions to juggle and we aren't in the same field as the big guys in buying our supplies in high quantities from China which would guarantee those penny prices. What we are doing is ensuring quality products with other small businesses across the United States.
I always offer the option with my invitation lines for digital copies so customers can print on their own or use another print company. That is 100% your right. My problem lies in the often seemingly rude commentary I hear now and again. I do have a regular client who will order a digital file for me and then make a point of always saying how she will print through Vistaprint because it's SO much cheaper. It's very frustrating to small shops because it's totally unaware of what goes into the work of your order and cost from our end to produce something unique and high quality. In truth, I try to stay competitive with Shutterfly and other popular sites, but I cannot compete with the uber cheap Vistaprint prices typically. So if getting the absolute cheapest price is the best thing for you then go for it. To each their own and that is exactly why I offer the digital option! However, if you choose to print through me over a company like Vistaprint what I can ensure is a better quality product. Like the majority of my fellow small shops, I stand by the products we produce and yes you may likely pay a few cents more per invitation printed (it costs us more to produce!), but those extra cents produce a better end product.
5. Quirky and Diversified
Have you been to your local craft fair lately? It's a mix of fun, quirky and pretty with something for everyone because the maker life celebrates the weird whims in us all. From wand makers, to macabre wood art, beer scented candles, pickle cheese and salsa tastings, the list goes on. You're local makers are creating to share and while many of us want to maintain successful business, we also just really love to celebrate in that assortment of interests and passions. Go out and celebrate something completely unique and personal. The crazy piece of pottery with a snake on it that you are totally digging, the pillow that manages to have your dogs face on it, the art print that reminds you of your magical wedding day, that weird pizza stuffed in a cone trend you can only get off that random food truck and so much more. Shopping small is above all else really fun because it's always changing with both maker and consumer whims. Feel good about being silly when you support and shop small.