Think of your favorite restaurant, grocery store, coffee shop, hair dresser, car mechanic, or hardware store.
We’ll bet it’s a homegrown business. Independent locally-owned businesses are essential to a vital local economy and community character. They’re where the locals go. They’re owned by your friends and neighbors.
Community-serving businesses are the backbone of local economies, civic life, local charities, and wealth creation for millions of citizens, as well as a training ground for future generations of entrepreneurs. According to studies conducted by Civic Economics, independent businesses circulate 48% of revenue back into their communities, compared to 13.6% from chain retailers.
Today, independent businesses face unprecedented competition from larger chain competitors, internet merchants and franchises that enjoy national or international branding power and major economies of scale. Small businesses must compete with major companies with huge marketing budgets.
Their best asset is you, the customer, and their biggest fan. Referrals remain one of the best sources of growth for small businesses, which means greater support for local communities.
Full disclosure: at Wintergreen Northern Wear we are the epitome of small business; yet we try to support our community as best as we can thru donations to fundraisers, charities, and sports teams and providing quality year round jobs. Our children attend the very schools we support.
We are truly grateful for the overwhelming support from our customers and our community members. We honestly could not do this business without referrals and feedback from our customers. Thank you to everyone who has ever supported us.
The intention of this article isn't to push you to support Wintergreen, but we hope it encourages you to think about all of the small businesses that have impacted your life in a positive way and to consider the economic and cultural value for these businesses.
Here are 10 easy ways to support your favorite small businesses:
1) Share with Friends
You know why you love the business, but do your friends know? Referrals from friends are the greatest source of consumer trust. Share your favorite local businesses and why with your friends on your social media accounts. It's easier to trust businesses if you know your friends do. Start by sharing this article :).
2) Review Products
Product reviews go a long way for small businesses. Offer an honest review for your favorite products, even if you purchased it 10 years ago! Most companies allow you to review products directly on their product pages.
3) Review the Business
Facebook and Google Reviews help other people find and trust small businesses. If you absolutely love a business, or appreciate something they did, leave them a review on their Facebook and Google pages. Honesty is key.
4) Share a Photo
Do you love taking pictures? Many small businesses really appreciate receiving photos of their products in action. Often they will repost your photo on social media as a Thank You and give you some promotion as well!
5) Offer Direct Feedback
Do you have a suggestion for improvement? Most small businesses welcome direct growth oriented feedback and really appreciate customers taking the time to offer their thoughts. Send them a direct email with your thoughts.
Even if you don't want to buy anything, stop by your favorite small businesses to say hi, or "show off" the business to friends visiting from out of town. If it's a production business, see if they'll let you take a tour of their facilities!
7) Give Back
Pay attention to the small businesses that donate to local charities, school events, sports teams, and fundraisers. They often donate because they truly care about the community. Many business owners and their employees have children in the school systems they are donating to. Give back by offering a review on their Facebook page or Google pages, simply sending them a Thank You, or following their social media pages.
8) Spread the Word
Even in this digital age, we haven't lost the ability to talk to each other. Show off your favorite products with your friends and family. Be proud of your small business products or services.
9) Stay Informed
Stay informed about the impact of small businesses on the local economy. Check out the American Independent Business Alliance. https://www.amiba.net/ for more detailed information on how to get involved.
Learn how your products are made, where the independent restaurants get their produce or coffee, or how many generations have owned your local hardware store. Most independent businesses have pretty incredible stories to share. Use this as a learning opportunity for your kids.
Join their mailing list. Newsletters aren't always product ads, businesses often share their story, customer highlights, and detailed product information through newsletters.
10) Write an Article
Do you love to write? Consider writing a blog post or a short product review for your favorite small business. Many businesses have blog posts (likely this one :)) and are always looking for content creators.
Your support can go a long way in promoting the culture and local economies of America.
#shopsmall this season!
What's your favorite small business and why? Share in the comments below. (You don't have to say Wintergreen :))