Here’s the deal, 2020 has flipped the tables on all of us. With that, I have made the decision to start talking about the big shopping holidays of the year, much earlier than I normally do. I’ve put my lights up around my windows, the decorations have started peaking around the house, and…the holiday shopping has begun. Now, I typically shop early anyways as we live in Europe right now (so if I want to order anything from the states I have to do so early), but also because my organization just…makes me do it ha-ha.
I always advocate for shopping small, however 2020 has shown us just how important small business is and how fragile it can be. I think as we head into the shopping season there are several steps we can take to support small businesses and help take care of our own cities and towns. I can say that being an entrepreneur is an incredibly difficult undertaking and those who do it, are putting all of their heart and soul into their business. That business is one that is close to heart and is something that they believe in. We can support that spirit in many different ways.
Before we get into all of that, I am going to touch on something that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a hot minute…Amazon.
I’m not here to lecture about using Amazon, nor am I here to tell you to completely stop using them. I get the draw: items are usually cheaper on Amazon, shipping is faster (and if you have Prime it’s free), and overall, just hopping on to the app and using one click is just…easier. It also does have a area that advertises local, small business items that you can purchase. I GET IT. I have nothing against using Amazon in certain situations, when you need something in a pinch, or if you are quarantine and can’t leave your home, or if you are in a tighter financial budget. HOWEVER, I think for the vast majority of us, it should not be our first stop for our shopping needs. It’s no secret the sheer amount of wealth, the employment issues, and other issues that have come to light over the past couple of years. Amazon has quickly taken over across quite a few industries and we are seeing the effect that that is having. It may not seem like it (after all- you are still able to get what you need through Amazon), but our main streets lined with local business, those same entrepreneurs that are trying to survive are being taken out.
When I shop (because I am not perfect and I do still go to Amazon for certain things), I try to treat Amazon as a true last-minute option. If I need something fast (like when I needed to order night lights for my child who decided at 2AM one night that he wanted to do night time potty training) or if I am trying to maybe cut a bit of the cost (again- night lights for a voltage that we won’t be using when we leave here). Otherwise I try to do a couple of different things:
1)Is there a local business that I can support with my purchase. This can be anything from your local grocery/center store OR a boutique that carries what you are looking for. I find that not only buying local supports the town and business owners, but also gives you a chance to get something cute and unique that only you or the person you are gifting will have. For us, I try to pick up things from small shops on our various travels as I know that those would be appreciated much more than something similar I can get off of Amazon. The purchase also comes with a story, which can be fun as well and shows an extra bit of thought put into the purchase.
2) I try to go directly to the company. ***This isn’t the best example as this isn’t a small business, but it applies to us this year so I’m trying to make it work.***This year the boys are getting mostly Lego sets for the holidays, so instead of buying off of Amazon, I am ordering for Lego directly. Sure it’s a bit more expensive or there may be a shipping cost involved (with Lego if you spend over a certain amount shipping is free and I know several other companies do this as well), but as a part of the loyalty program I get points for future purchases or discounts at the parks. I still get the same product, but I’ve supported the business directly and I’ve earned potential discounts in the future.
Finally, a good alternative to Amazon in some ways can be Etsy. Etsy still charges per listing and takes a cut of the profits, BUT most of the companies on Etsy ARE small businesses and it’s a great way to find a personal alternative. I highly highly recommend Etsy and I have personally found quite a few gifts to purchase through them. Not to mention, there is an app that provides a lot of similar options to Amazons (one click shopping, shipping to several addresses, gift wrap options, etc).
Now that I’m off my soap box for a minute, let’s talk about this years Small Business List. Most of these have not changed since the last time I spoke about supporting Small Business, BUT to be honest, I haven’t done much shopping beyond book shopping this year haha. So, please feel free to add your options in the comments for others as well.
We are going to start with what I’ve spent the most amount of money on this year (second to travel actually)…books. (***Anyone surprise?***)
First things first, if you are wanting to purchase books as gifts this year, and they’ve already been published, go ahead an purchase them now. This is for a couple different reasons, the first being the independent book store/general book store industry is suffering. The second reason is that there are a couple of books coming out towards the end of this year that have massive print runs coming. This is going to put pressure on the printing houses and may cause delays or back orders of other print runs. So, buy early!
Second, if you are wanting to purchase books as gifts this year (or just purchase books in general), you’re purchasing options SHOULD be ordered as the following:
- Your local independent bookstore. This will be a massive boon to the booksellers and may make a difference in keeping a bookstore open.
- Bookshop.Org OR your other favorite independent bookstore that you can purchase through online. Bookshop.org is a great option as it directly benefits bookstores across the board and allows you to purchase books from any independent bookstore online. In the past months you’ll have noticed on my mothly reading wrap ups, the links point back to their site. Beyond that, you can purchase online from quite a large amount of independent bookstores simply by going to their websites. Quite a few will ship worldwide as well. The Strand made headlines recently with its plea to the public about shopping the store and while we can debate the merits of that plea (there is a whole separate story on that), the plea remains across the board for many independent bookstores. If you don’t have a local one, check out some online. I’ve personally bookmarked both The Bookshelf in Georgia, Powells in Oregon, Shakespeare and Co in Paris, as well as some others.
- Chain Bookstores. Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Chapters (for those in Canada), Blackwells (for those in Europe, Hugendubel for my local Germany friends) and many others are great options for purchasing as well. These are specifically bookstores and your money will go back into the book industry (in a way) and thus allow them to continue to operate. All have online websites as well and good shipping turn around if you don’t want to shop in store.
The next shopping option I am going to talk about is art/photography/home décor bits that go on your wall. I’ve discovered some new art and home décor options this year that I’ve really fallen in love with, and so I wanted to share.
- KelsConversePhoto. Kelsey is an elopement photographer, but she also does travel photography and has shared purchasing options for some of her prints from travels. OR You could hire here to shoot some adventure photography- whatever you choose you will get some stunning images.
- Anne Street Studio. These are masterpieces. I actually have my eye on a piece or two of her work as they are truly magnificent pieces of art. Styled still life photographs she not only sells prints, but also offers cell phone cases. Also- give her a follow on Instagram (jamiebeckco) as she details out how she gets the shot and the meaning behind it, as well as life in France.
Finally, some other options for clothes/jewellry/mugs. I’ve shopped all three of these stores and have loved everything I’ve gotten and highly recommend them.
- Taylor Wolfe Shop. The best sweatshirts and shirts that you can find around. I’ve been following Taylor for a little while on Instagram (she’s hilarious- follow her) and finally purchased one of her “Social Distance Club” sweatshirts in the spring/summer. It’s the softest, comfiest thing I own and I am very much eye-ing a couple other shirts.
- Rachel Allene. The mugs that will put a smile on your face every time you use them. If you know me, you know I’m a mug fanatic and I could probably buy every mug she makes – they hold the perfect amount of liquid AND have an inspirational or cheerful message attached. She also does clothes and notebooks.
- Mermaids and Dinosaurs. Custom jewelry that is all handmade just for you (or your gift recipient). I have several pieces of her jewelry and have thought about getting another piece or two.
I could list so many other small businesses, so pay attention to my Instagram Stories as I’ll be sharing several small businesses throughout the coming weeks to purchase from.
If you can’t purchase from small businesses for whatever reason, you can support in several other, no charge to you ways by commenting on their social media, tagging friends, sharing posts, saving posts, sending links to your friends/family. Anything to help get word of the business out to others will help.
And now, almost 2000 words later we have reached the end. Maybe I should have split this into two posts, I’m not sure. If you want to share your own small business or one that you know of in the comments, please do!