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Skip Black Friday; Go Small Business Saturday

It's thanksgiving and I know MOST of you are more excited for Black Friday than you are for free food. As a young person on a budget, the idea of  low prices on things we can't usually afford gets our blood pumping.

But what if you could shop like this all the time?

I could go into a long lecture about large companies, manufacturing costs, price inflation, and a all the little bits and bobs that most consumers don't understand when they're paying $40 for a sweater that cost $8 to make. (yeah, I just challenged your shopping choices). But instead what I'll do is share with you why small businesses matter, why "Buying Local is Better", some of my favorite local shops, and what it's like being the child of a small business owner.

To start, the definition of a small business is an independently owned and operated company that is limited in size depending on the industry. So a bakery employing 10 people and a manufacturing facility employing under 500 are both a small business.

Despite it's definition a small business is still mostly seen as the aforementioned bakery, the bookstore on the corner, or the local thrift shop.

No matter how you see a small business the impact on its immediate community is largely more positive than your local, larger companies. Corporations like major clothing stores and chain restaurants, usually do not operate in your home town. Most times they aren't even a major corporate presence in your state or even in the US. Large companies like this have so many levels of personnel and production that the money you paid for that sweater most likely never even made it back into the pocket of the person who pieced it together.

The story with a small business is different. Guaranteed the money you spend is keeping the lights on, feeding a family, and going towards specially formulated small business taxes that ensure the money goes back into the city or town the business is being operated in. When a small business thrives you watch it happen before your very eyes.

I live in an arts community with plenty of small business keeping us going. Some of my favorite places hold awesome events, sell unique products, and have out-of-the-box setups that work for everyone. From being strictly "in the family" to being owned and run by the employees. Across the board I'd rather spend my money here than anywhere else.

Red Emma's Is a bookstore, vegan restaurant, and event venue all bundled into one. What is unique about this place is not only it's history in Baltimore, but the fact that it's owned and run by every employee. They host book signings for local authors, speaking events, and even town hall meetings that create a safe place for open discussion. The food is always fresh and well prepared and it's become a pivotal part of where and how I live.

Atomic Books Is another bookstore but one that differs from Red Emma's in vibe and books you can find. Their inventory is made mostly of zines, art books, art prints, and a wide selection of vinyl records. Atomic Books also takes the extra step in helping artists and writers get their work out into the world by taking in printed zines, locally written/drawn graphic novels and comic books, photo-books, and art prints and giving them the shelf space they wouldn't get at a Barnes and Noble or a Books a Million.

Hunting Ground I love to shop just as much as the next girl but I've managed to warp my love of shopping into a love of thrifting. Hunting Ground doesn't just take in any old pieces but instead the lovely ladies working there make sure to curate everything they bring in to be sure it's of good quality and that it's a truly unique and sometimes even a hard-to-find piece.

Crystals, Candles, & Cauldrons Takes the term "specialty store" very seriously. It is essentially a Pagan supply store owned and run by a practicing Pagan Witch. The small, first floor store makes sure to inform customers that these aren't just candles for your living room table that you'll never light, or incense for a regular day. As someone new to the "craft" I was lucky to find this place and the owner teaches me something new whenever I visit. I could easily jump on Amazon and order the things I run out of regularly, but having a relationship with someone who can answer my questions and guide me in the right direction is worth the trip away from my computer.

Now looking over my list shows small businesses that are product based, but my mother's own small business is service based. My mother is an independent Medical Biller who works mostly with small practice doctors and nurses. Her small business was my family's income. There were no yearly raises, bonuses, paid time off or leave. There were and still are few vacations and plenty of late nights. The choice her clients made to work small allowed them a personalized workflow from my mother and decidedly less stress. If they had gone to any number of the many large Medical Billing companies or chosen to do it themselves, they would be faced with little to no personalization and many more mistakes for which no one can really be held responsible.

No matter how you look at it, small business just works. You are directly affecting someones income and in turn their family and the surrounding community.

During the holidays running a business can become a little tight too! Staying open later and offering more to compete with the corporations can be strenuous and small business need our help and guidance! While we can definitely don our hero capes and dive in but sometimes we aren't enough. Special small business loans can allow for wiggle room and met goals which allow small business to grow. Sites like Fundera make it easier for small businesses to compare the best loans for them and set a plan in motion.

Black Friday is nice and Cyber Monday is fun but give small business Saturday a spin and see how shopping small business can change your consumer habits for the better.

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