It seems as though there has been a shift in how we are consuming. People are becoming more conscious of where they are spending their money, and who they are supporting with their purchases. A Canadian report has shown that over 45% of consumers actively sought to buy independent products in 2012, indicating that a great number of people are making better choices, and supporting small business.
Grassroots "Buy Local and Independent" initiatives have helped increase sales to small businesses by a solid 5.6 percent, according to 2010 figures surveyed by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The success of most of these campaigns comes from people's desire to spend their money wisely and help small businesses, and in doing so, consumers are supporting creativity and innovation. These initiatives are paralleled on the web, where the maker movement has received great success thanks to online marketplaces.
Online marketplaces connect independent makers, designers and retailers to millions of customers who are looking to buy unique, or handmade items, or from small businesses. Industry leader Etsy has over one million sellers, who made $900-million in sales in 2013 alone. These online marketplaces help independent retailers and makers expand their reach, making them accessible to the growing number of people who want to buy from small businesses.
Image by Eric Hill via flickr
When you buy from a small business, 48% of their revenue is returned into their economy, compared with only 14% of the revenue of a national chain retailer. That means that small businesses are putting their money back into the community, by hiring local contractors, using other small businesses, whereas a national chain most likely has centralized departments at a head office in another country. How awesome is this: when you shop from an independent retailer (even if you're buying online!) their accountant, photographer, printer, and any other small business they are connected with all benefit, too. The small business world is web of independent people helping each other and enriching their community.
The average local or independent retailer makes roughly 30% of their income in the 6 weeks before Christmas. Imagine the impact we could have if we made an active effort to buy from independent and small businesses! We can truly put our money where our mouth is and spend our dollars in accordance with our values.
Here's how you can support independent retails and small business, in store and online:
- Take initiative! If you keep saying you want to avoid shopping in malls or form big-box retailers, do it! Some quick will lead you to numerous design markets, craft fairs, and independent retailers that you can buy from, both in store and online.
- Spread the word! Small businesses don't have as much money to spend on traditional advertising, and word of mouth is always best. If you discover an independent retailer or online store that you love, tell you friends and let the world know that you support them.