Did you know that independent retailers return more than three times as much money to the local community than a chain competitor?
And if you spend that money online? Your local community hardly sees a dime.
That's why, even though it's tempting to do all your holiday shopping from the comfort of your couch, you should make an effort to spend your holiday dollars locally.
This year's Small Business Saturday takes place Nov. 24. American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to help small businesses get more customers. The celebration has ballooned nationwide, become an annual shopping tradition on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
“What began nine years ago as an effort to support local stores during the holiday shopping season has become the Shop Small movement, bringing together millions of shoppers, small businesses of all kinds, civic leaders, and organizations in thousands of towns and cities across the country,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, Chief Marketing Officer at American Express. “Shopping small has a significant and positive effect on local communities, and we hope Small Business Saturday will help to amplify that effect during the crucial holiday shopping season. When we spend local, small businesses thrive. And when small businesses thrive, we all thrive.”
How important are small businesses to our communities? Small businesses that employ 500 people or less account for nearly half of the United States' workforce and gross domestic product, according to the federal Small Business Administration.
That might be hard to picture when you stop in at your favorite local coffee shop or bookstore. But whether you realize it or not, every dollar you spend there actually stimulates your local economy.
Need more reasons to shop local Nov. 24 -- and every day?
We've got them! Shopping local:
Keeps your community unique
Your community's unique character and personality are shaped by the people and businesses that are there. When you talk about visiting other towns, do you advise people to go there for their chain stores or chain restaurants? Probably not. That's because it's the local stores and restaurants that make a destination unique. By shopping local, you are helping to keep your community vibrant and a draw to visitors.
Offers you more personalized customer service
Every sale makes a difference to a small business owner. That means you can expect top-notch customer service and employees who know their products.
Gives you a chance to support your neighbor
About 20 million people are employed by businesses with 40 people or less, according to the Small Business Administration. When you spend money at a local small business, you're helping pay the wages and benefits of your neighbors.
Means you're supporting local nonprofits
Local business owners care about their community too. And they give back. A 2015 study by Alignable, a free network for small business owners, showed half of the small business owners surveyed planned to give charitably. Of those, 90 percent planned to give to local organizations, while 10 percent planned to donate to national organizations.
Is a treasure hunt!
Sure the chain stores are convenient, but they certainly don't have those one-of-a-kind and unique items you find at local stores -- that piece of "wow" jewelry made by a local artisan, the delicious specialty food made right on-site, or the handmade stuffed animal you know your child will carry everywhere.
You should feel great about spending money at local stores this holiday season -- after all, you're giving back to your community too!
Kara Murphy is the managing editor of Macaroni Kid and the publisher of Macaroni Kid Erie, Pa.