Help Keep Local and Small Businesses Alive By: Sonja Mabel McClure

How sad is it when you go out and about in your local city, scanning the area as it undergoes new development changes and while you assess the shopping district, you become disheartened that your favorite little consignment shop is gone and closed down. The even more discouraging realization is that this is happening frequently to small businesses everywhere. 
The quaint boutique located in my neighborhood was filled with a wide assortment of locally made crafts, decorations, and brightly colored refurnished furniture. I was fortunate that I had the opportunity to sell some of my own handmade items in the shop at one time. Such a shame to witness that it was no longer there. 
In today’s marketplace, it is a struggle for many small merchants to make a profit and stay afloat. We must engage in various actions to help sustain the future of local and independent businesses.

The role of the consumer

The consumer plays a major part in helping small businesses succeed. A substantial factor of the current problem with monopolization in the marketplace lies in the mindset and spending tendencies of the consumer. 
Giant superstores hinder the sales and the income of small merchants. The creation and widespread dispersion of these corporations has enabled the average consumer to become complacent. I must admit that I have let myself fall for the convenience of shopping at large department stores and online megastores. 
The one-stop shop concept, entices customers to fulfill their buying needs at just one store. Many individuals then become less inclined to exert the effort to drive around and shop at different locations. The buyer lacks ambition for shopping at small and local stores, therefore perpetuating the rise and dominance of big corporations. 

Preserve diversity in the marketplace

It’s crucial to keep a broad and diverse marketplace in circulation. We need to keep the independent avenues alive and help preserve the DIY and small business platforms. The consumer deserves the freedom and opportunity to purchase custom and high-quality merchandise from various companies. As a customer, we don’t want to end up with the only option of mid-grade mass produced products.
One area of small business I noticed that has declined in the last decade is media center stores. At one time there was a plethora of places to purchase books. Now those sellers have decreased to only a handful of vendors such as, Barnes and Noble and Amazon. 
Luckily, many independent and local bookstores still exist and several of them offer online shopping. Powell’s offers a large selection of books on their website. Not to mention, there’s the fantastic option to purchase books directly from small press publishers. These wonderful shops will continue to prosper as long as we decide to give them our constant support and dedication. 


Image from Powell's Instagram 

Ways to support

All of these ideas made me wonder, how many ways I could adjust my purchasing habits and what a difference it would make. How I could aid the dream of a small business owner. How I can assist in maintaining job security for small vendors and artists. 
With this topic in mind, I spoke with several different individuals about how often they shopped at independent resources and if it was daily, weekly, monthly or whenever possible. I also inquired about where they spend money locally. 
Most people said they did make purchases from local or indie merchants two or three times per week. Some of the responses I received included various establishments such as: local restaurants, food trucks, breweries, farmers markets, grocery stores, art fairs, coffeeshops, jewelry and clothing stores, and tattoo shops. A few even mentioned that they support community radio and television and they attend indie films, concerts, and local dance performances.
What a great discovery to witness the abundance of local and small shops/outlets that are still flourishing. Those are the types of quality vendors that deserve our attention and preservation. It’s rewarding to make a small merchant’s day and to spend money at a store that will put the proceeds back into the community. 
It is important to actively seek out the one of a kind and truly authentic artisans and small businesses that put their heart, soul, and sweat into their craftmanship. Our continuous contributions are vital for their survival. 




"We write to taste life twice."
Anais Nin

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