Shop Local Black Businesses this Holiday Season
by Bernard Freeman
Let’s cut to the chase. By now you’ve heard the statistics. Almost $75 of every $100 you spend locally stays in your community. Local businesses employ millions of people across the country. Local entrepreneurs spend exponentially more money on community programs than their larger counterparts.
All impressive, indeed, and while those facts relate to the broader community, they are also applicable to the Black community. So then why are millions of African Americans driving away or logging on to their computers for their Christmas shopping this holiday season? Some cite convenience or busy schedules without realizing just how much impact they can have on their local community by spending a few dollars locally.
Buy Every Week from a Black Business
Breaking the habit can be tough, so start small. Challenge yourself to make at least one purchase each week from at least one Black Business. Encourage your friends to do the same and you could be making a monumental difference in your community.
Buy Gifts Cards from Black Business
Gift cards are becoming an increasingly massive portion of holiday spending. More than 80 percent of holiday shoppers will buy at least one. More than $28 billion will be shelled out on gift cards this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Share Your Knowledge
One of the main disadvantages small businesses have when advertising their services is a limited marketing budget. Instead of spending millions of dollars on television, radio and print ads, local businesses may be able to allocate only a few thousand dollars to getting their name into the public view.
But with the advent of social media marketing and digital strategies, you can help spread the word on local businesses this holiday season – without spending a dollar.
Local shops depend on grassroots-type advertising for much of their promotional strategies. Spending huge amounts on marketing isn’t possible for many mom-and-pop retailers simply because of their small size. Do your part this holiday season by serving as an advocate for your favorite local businesses.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer the perfect forum to inform others of Black businesses. Use your platforms to send out ideas and introduce businesses to others. Your hundreds of friends and followers can be a powerful economic force.
You can also post photos of your recent purchases with information on where you purchased it, what you spent and how much you love it. Seeing a certain item may trigger a gift idea, producing more business for local owners.
A Better Shopping Experience
Most of us have experienced the holiday shopping rush at a large retailer. Crowded aisles and long lines are just a couple of guaranteed sights during the waning days of the shopping season.
Procrastinators are better off opting for the local shopping experience instead. Because while busy, local shops will be exponentially less crowded than their larger counterparts. This will allow you to leisurely shop for the last few remaining items on your wish list without the hassle.
Shopping locally can save you more than holiday cash. Stress, body weight and environmental harm are at risk of increasing during the holiday season. Implement a little bit of local shopping into your routine and watch those negative implications melt away.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, not stressed, frenzied, or road-raged. Trade in the hustle and bustle of over-packed malls for a relaxing stroll through your favorite downtown business. The benefits of slowing things down over the holidays can improve your health, well-being and overall mood, especially when schedules are at their fullest.
The ‘Already-Has-Everything’ Recipient
We all know them. We may even be one. Shopping for some people is just plain difficult. They either have one of everything or don’t seem to want anything in particular.
“I already have everything I need” or “Don’t feel like you need to get me anything” are common responses from them. The simple solution to pleasing these friends and family members is to find a gift card from a local Black Business.
Don’t Forget Non-Profit
Some local organizations are focused not on selling products, but on improving the lives of disadvantaged community members. Non-profit groups, soup kitchens and children advocacy organizations are all seeking help this holiday season. And what they’re asking for is simply a hand. They need more manpower to achieve their goals and spread the word on their efforts.
Lending Your Skill Set
Can you spare a few hours every weekend in December? You may be asked to run errands or visit with people. Maybe deliver food or products to clients across town.
Professionals in the creative services field can offer their skills free of charge as a holiday contribution. Developing a website, creating brochures or writing a mission statement for free can help your local group promote its missions.
Why not spend your Christmas spreading some holiday cheer – and delicious food? You can spend Christmas Eve cooking your favorite dish or baking some special cookies, then take them to your local shelter on Christmas morning.
Your gesture will surely be appreciated by the hungry, as well as by the shelter staff. And it is a simple act of kindness that can be turned into a tradition, passed on to children or replicated by your friends and family members.
You may find yourself short on time this holiday season, but maybe you have a few dollars to donate to a local organization. Your contribution could go a long way toward furthering the cause of a group near and dear to your heart.
You can conveniently make online donations or in-person cash contributions. Either way, donating funds is a simple way to show your support while making a difference in the lives of those who need it.
ALL YEAR LONG
Not just for the Holiday Season
Sure, Christmas is a great time to shower your loved ones with locally bought gifts. But what about the other major holidays throughout the year? Extend your yuletide joy to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries for maximum impact on your local community and business owners. Your effort in doing so may make more of a difference than you realize.
A recent collaborative study by the Small Business Administration, United States Department of Labor and other major organizations found that small businesses employ about 77 million Americans and account for 65 percent of all new jobs over the past 17 years. So by spending your money locally, you are helping keep your friends and neighbors employed during the holiday season and beyond!
Here are some of the other notable findings from the study:
- Eighty-nine percent of consumers agree that independent businesses contribute positively to local economies.
- Residential neighborhoods served by a successful independent business district gained, on average, 50 percent more in home values than their citywide markets.
- Independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales than chain competitors. Independent restaurants return more than two times as much money per dollar of sales than national restaurant chains.
- If independent businesses regained their 1990 market shares, it would create 200,000 new small businesses, generate nearly $300 billion in revenues and employ more than 1.6 million American workers.
- If just half of the United States employed population spent $50 each month at locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.
- For every square foot a local firm occupies, the local economy gains $179 vs. $105 for a chain store.