It's shop small season! With Small Business Saturday taking the stage on Thanksgiving weekend, it raises the awareness of shopping local through the holiday season (and beyond). If you're looking for ways to support local businesses, we've got your back. It's something we're always advocating in our community, but it's true whether you're shopping in the community you live in, or just passing through a community while traveling.
Why support local? Locally-owned and operated businesses are the heart and soul of a community, especially the type of communities found in Morgan County. Our local communities are more small town than big city - we know one another, including those who own and operated businesses among us. Some of those businesses have been a vital part of our communities for close to (or over) 100 years! This is true not just here, but in communities across the country.
It's never been more important to support your friends and neighbors who own local businesses than it is right now. They've supported the community through youth sports sponsorships, festival and event sponsorships and donations to worthwhile causes, and now it's our turn to support them. Whether those businesses are restaurants, retail or service oriented, we have to support them to make sure they'll still be around this time next year and beyond. Here are more than a dozen different ways you can help support local businesses this holiday seson (or any time, really).
- Buy gift cards for gifts, or to use at a later date. This is the easiest, most immediate way to help - and it works for almost all types of businesses! Gift card purchases now get cash into the hands of business owners, and you can enjoy the purchase at a later date or use it for gift giving. This is perfect for those who have special occasions later in the year - you'll already be prepared to celebrate without worrying about cost!
- Shop online. You can still shop local from your home - check out our list of local Morgan County businesses with online shopping capabilities. You can even have your purchases shipped directly to a gift recipient in another town. Purchase logo merchandise from restaurants, or branded sauces or spices - they make great gifts as well!
- Commit to ordering from a locally owned restaurant once or twice per week if you can. Splurge on a special meal to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. Don't forget about non-food businesses as well - many businesses are now offering curbside pickup for all sorts of purchases.
- Continue to tip! Tip a larger percentage than normal, if possible. Every little bit helps those working in those under-appreciated service jobs. When servers are doing well, so are the small businesses they work for!
- Before you order online from retail giants, stop to think about whether you can get what you need locally instead. Local purchases mean more money in our local economy, and it's more likely to stay here than to go to a corporate headquarters in another state!
- Follow local businesses on social media and share their content. Even if you're not able to spend money right now, you can help get their message out to others who may be looking for gift shopping ideas. Share posts or tag friends who might be interested, leave a comment or like a photo. More engagement means more people are reached by each post.
- Leave a positive review! Life happens fast, and normally we're all so busy we may not have time to leave reviews on sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook or Google. Take a few minutes out of each week, or day, to leave a positive review for a local business. This will help them rise to the top of the list on those sites, which are used by many to make decisions about where to eat, shop or visit. (Plus, it's a great ego-boost for business owners who may really appreciate the positive feedback.) Remember, visitors passing through often use reviews from locals to decide where to eat or what to do in our area!
- Say thank you. Express your appreciation to local business owners. It may not help them financially, but it will be a big help to them mentally and emotionally to know that they have your support, even if it's not necessarily financial.
- Recommend your favorites to family and friends. No one can shop every day, but if you share your recommendations with family and friends, you extend the circle from which a business draws customers. Highlight your favorites with a mention on social, or if a friend is looking for something specific and you know where they can find it locally instead of buying online, let them know!
- Attend Small Business shopping events, both on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year! Be sure to watch for Open Houses at area shops, local craft and vendor shows and other ways to support local merchants and vendors in your community. Did you know that Rediscover Martinsville hosts a special shopping event each month on the third Thursday? Stop in next month and see what the "shop local" fuss is all about!
These small businesses are the lifeblood of our local communities - make sure they know how much we appreciate them in our community!