This year seems to have been particularly tough for myself and many of my creative self-employed friends. With Christmas fast approaching, this can be a critical time of year for many small businesses, so here are a few of my tips on how you can support them:
The obvious one – buy from them! In this increasingly corporate world, the simplest way to support a small business is to buy from them. With overheads continuously increasing, I’m sure you’ve seen many independent shops and cafes close to be replaced by big chain companies. If you want to continue to see creativity and variety in your local area, choose to spend your money in these places. “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” – Anna Lappe Obviously we don’t all have oodles of cash to spend on luxuries, but even the smallest purchases help, such as greetings cards, gift tags or small Christmas decorations. It all adds up! “If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card’ we’d still be open” Take a look at the “Just a Card” Campaign.
Engage with them online Makers will appreciate that you may not want to buy their work, not everything is for everyone and that’s fine. You can still help support small business owners that you know or admire by sharing their posts on social media. Engagement makes a huge difference on social platforms, especially Instagram and Facebook. Leave “likes”, “loves” etc. and comment when you can, or tag friends that you think will like products. It can be difficult for small businesses to reach their audiences on Facebook, so make the small effort to visit their page and comment on their posts.
Don’t compare their prices to big brands Remember that many small businesses are run by just one person, or a small team. The items are not mass produced and can’t be created at the low costs that large companies can achieve. Whilst prices can sometimes be a bit more, the profit margin is most likely significantly less. The person/people behind the businesses truly care about providing a quality product or service, over taking your hard earned cash. It’s also worth remembering when buying from an independent creator, what you’re buying is unique and has been skilfully designed and created by hand - not by a machine.
"When buying from a maker, you're buying more than just an object.
You are buying hundreds of hours of failures and experimentaion.
You are buying days, weeks, months of frustration and
moments of pure joy.
You aren't just buying a thing. You are buying
a piece of heart,
part of a soul, a moment of someone's life.
Most importantly, you are buying the maker more time
to do something they love."
Store their business cards When you take business cards from stalls you admire or received them with your online orders, remember to keep them safe for whenever you need to buy gifts in the future. This is something that helps me to find unique handmade gifts when I need them rather than relying on the big high street stores.
Share your purchases Take pictures of your purchases from small businesses and share them on social media. This kind of exposure can help small businesses build their brand and make future sales. It is also such a joy for the maker to see. It’s really one of the highlights of the job!
Let them know Sometimes small business owners need some encouragement to boost their confidence and know that they’re on the right path. You can show them that they’re acknowledged and appreciated by writing a short message online or speaking to them in person at events. Don’t be shy – they will truly appreciate it!
If you have any more tips please leave them in the comments. I’d also love to know who your favourite small businesses are when looking for gifts during the run up to Christmas.