10 Ways to Support Small Businesses Year Round

Happy New Year and thank youfor shopping small this holiday season! The “Shop Local” message is getting out there, and we knowit is folks like our readers who are making that happen.

How do small businesses keep the momentum going all yearround? It is the biggest challengewe face. Many consumers don’tthink twice before heading to themall or hitting the “buy” buttonon a mega-online-retailer’swebsite. This year, think twice about where to spend your hard-earned dollars. If you are willing to spend a few dollars more (and more often than not, you won’t), it will be offset by the customerc are, unique inventory, higher quality and community reinvestment that small businesses provide. Try to focus on value rather than the lowest price because small businesses deserve to be part of everyone’s routine. Here are some ideas to help make that happen in the New Year:

1. Scout the small businesses near you. I’ve been in business for over five years and am still amazed to hear customers say, “I live right around the corner and had no idea you were here!” When you need something, do a quick check around your neighborhood and see if a small business provides what you need. Incorporate buying from them into your normal routine. Check out www.southwedge. com, a website produced by BASWA, the Business Association of the South Wedge Area, to find businesses of all kinds that you may not be aware exist.

2. Become a tourist in your own city and check out local festivals, galleries, concerts, and recreational facilities. This will help ensure that attractions that make your community unique will continue. If you like it, spread the word! Better yet, volunteer to help out at the next event.

3. Use social media to promote your favorite small businesses. Review, comment, post, share, like, subscribe, tweet, retweet, pin, and don’t forget those hashtags! Local businesses also use social media to announce specials to their customers.

4. Studies show that one of the best ways to beat seasonal depression is to get out of the house, so venture outside and visit a small business. Most likely it will make the merchant’s day because when weather is bad, so is business.

5. Have your taxes done by a local accountant instead of a national chain.

6. Provide feedback to business owners, especially if there’s a problem with your purchase. Even if you are upset, give the owner an opportunity to rectify the problem.

7. Buy food, groceries and common household products at your local farmer’s market, corner grocer or specialty shop rather than the nearest mega-super-center. This one may seem obvious, but it can be so convenient to stop at Walmart that we don’t even think about it. Farmers’ markets offer better prices and fresh, locally produced food. If this seems difficult or inconvenient, start small and add one or two local products to your dinner table. How about bread or dessert from a local bakery, coffee from a local roaster, meat from a local butcher or fresh produce from a farm market? Take it a step further and buy your most frequently used household necessities from a local merchant (personal care items from a local pharmacy, pet items from a local pet shop, car repairs from a local mechanic).

8. Buy gifts from small, specialty, gift boutiques, craft fairs and local festivals. You will find unique products unavailable in chain stores and connect with shop keepers, crafters and artists.

9. Pay with cash when you can. Small businesses pay huge fees to banks and credit card companies to process credit/debit card transactions, plus they often have to purchase their own processing equipment.

10. If you are in a club (book, dining, hobby, etc.), hold meetings at different local venues each time. If you are hosting an event such as a wedding, luncheon, fund-raiser or party, choose a local venue or at least one that allows you to support local caterers, entertainers and event services. Make sure the businesses that made your event successful leave business cards for guests to take with them.

Keeping our small businesses in our neighborhoods falls on all of us. Without support from the communities around us, we can’t survive. We want to be your neighborhood shop, café, coffee shop, bar, yoga studio, or salon for a long time. Thank you for making the South Wedge such a strong, supportive community for small businesses.