Small Businesses Are in Trouble — If You Can, Consider Shopping Local This Holiday Season

Gift giving is one of my favorite parts of the holidays. Maybe it's my love language, or maybe I just love the challenge of finding the perfect item for the people I care about. Either way, my gift list is always infinitely more fun to make than my wish list. But this year, as I scour the internet for fun ideas and guides, I'm committed to doing all of my shopping through small and local businesses.

Small businesses — besides often being the owner's pride and joy — are the backbones of our communities. They're the friendly smiles who remember your name.

While it's nearly impossible to find any industry the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't affected in some way, small businesses have been at the forefront of many economic conversations. According to Forbes, a survey conducted during the first week of August showed that 46 percent of small businesses expect to close for good by the end of the year. If I can help prevent that from happening, even in a small way, I'm going to do it. Most large chains, on the other hand, aren't in danger of going out of business this year. In fact, many big-box retailers have actually thrived.

Small businesses — besides often being the owner's pride and joy — are the backbones of our communities. They're the friendly smiles who remember your name. They're the people dedicated to improving the environment they exist within. They're the places that shape childhoods and often give local students their first jobs at 16. Aside from their impact on the culture of a city, small businesses are generally better for the environment, offer more unique products, and keep money within a community.

I'll be getting some new reads from a locally owned bookstore, buying a bag of coffee from a family-owned roastery, and commissioning work from some of my favorite local artists to give out this year. I'm also going to do everything I can to buy holiday groceries from a small grocery store or the farmers' market and maybe a bottle of wine from a mom-and-pop shop. If I'm craving takeout one night, I'll be ordering from a local restaurant over a large chain.

If you have also decided to shop small but don't know where to begin, finding a local business that fits your needs is often only a google search away. Many city governments provide lists of small businesses on official websites, and alternatively, you can often search your city and "small business directory."

Understandably, this year has been one of financial hardship for countless families, and some might not be able to spend money on gifts this year. However, if you have the means, I implore you to consider shopping at the local businesses in your community. It could be the difference between the shop on the corner making it to the next holiday season or closing up before the end of the year. If you can't afford it this year, consider leaving a nice online review for a business you love — even this small gesture could ensure the business is still there when you're ready to shop again.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays this year — alone or with immediate family, with gifts or without — I encourage you to consider the small actions you can take to help support your community at this time. And don't forget, many stores are offering curbside pickup or delivery, meaning shopping local has never been easier!