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As you gaze at that long shopping list, you're probably tempted to cross items off as quickly and conveniently as possible. Anyone can hop online, quickly peruse a list of national best-sellers and have things shipped to them within 48 hours. But before your wallet takes another hit from those big box stores and national chains, you should know that there's a better way to go about your holiday shopping: shop small.
Supporting small businesses isn't just a thoughtful thing to do — it's one of the best ways to support your local community. And it might even put more money in your wallet. Here are five ways that shopping small can make a big difference.
Your local dollars stay local
If you want to invest in your community, shop local.
"For every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in that town. Spending $100 at a national chain means only $43 stays in town," Bridget Weston Pollack writes for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
And when you help one local business, you're usually helping others as well since these businesses tend to support one another.
"Small business owners know how important it is to cultivate a thriving local community that shops close to home," Pollack adds.
Property values rise
Here's some good news: Shopping small may actually be putting more dollars in your pocket. A report from the American Express OPEN Independent Retail Index found that neighborhoods with thriving independent businesses had higher home values than others. The report looked at 27 neighborhoods with thriving small businesses in 15 major U.S. cities. The home values outperformed other markets by 4% per year.
You help create jobs for other locals
ChamberofCommerce.com reports that small businesses employ nearly half of the nation's workforce (49.2%). This represents 120 million people. When you patronize a small business, you're not just helping to keep the lights on for that particular shop — you're also keeping several of your fellow locals employed.
Variety keeps things interesting
Just imagine how boring it would be if every town you visited across the country had the exact same food, clothing and items for sale on every corner. Quaint shops, Mom and Pop restaurants and carefully curated boutiques inject some personality into a neighborhood. They're often the things that stand out in peoples' memories when they're shopping for a new home or just visiting for the weekend. Stores that feature products from local artisans can also help people appreciate the unique flair and flavor of a particular area.
It's also good for the environment
Popping down the street to the nearest bakery, drugstore or seamstress is a lot better for the environment, too. You're spending less time in your car driving far distances — and the people working at these small shops are probably working closer to home as well. Plus, many small businesses carry local ingredients, which reduces the carbon footprint even further and creates a ripple effect of benefits throughout the community.
Support local small businesses this holiday season
This year, turn your holiday shopping into an opportunity to serve your local community. Grab a bite to eat at the hole-in-the-wall diner. Book a winter break staycation at that small inn downtown. You might just find that perfect, one-of-a-kind gift at the little shop on the corner.
Supporting small businesses is one of the best gifts you can give at this or any other time of the year. Saturday, Nov. 26, is Small Business Saturday, so kick off the holiday season in a meaningful way!
If you need help finding small businesses near you, use this store locator from American Express, the proud supporter and creator of Small Business Saturday. American Express cardholders may also be eligible for exclusive Amex Offers at participating small businesses.