The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everybody and small business owners are no exception.
Global chains have clearly felt tremors throughout their isolated operations but the relative effect COVID-19 has had on local independent retailers and hospitality has been catastrophic. Despite an ability of small businesses to adapt nimbly to everyday circumstances, the pandemic has introduced a whole new set of challenges—and no one was prepared.
Studies show that most small businesses simply don’t have the credit and capital needed to make it through this global health crisis unscathed. The average small business only has enough resources in reserve to remain open for a maximum of 27 days before they start to suffer major losses. Retail stores fare no better at an average of 19 days. Restaurants suffer even more so with statistics giving them a maximum of 16.
If you have the means to do so in these uncertain times for all, engaging and buying from small businesses is the best way to help them out. Plus, in the grand scheme of things, doing so will prove to be mutually beneficial into the future.
Yes, you stand to benefit from shopping small. Here are five reasons why:
Boosting the Backbone of the National Economy
Small, locally-owned businesses are the backbone of the national economy because they largely dictate the flow of the local economy. They create job opportunities within the area, pave the way for improvements and innovation (niched or otherwise), and contribute vastly to local colour and culture.
Think of all the small mom-and-pop shops that tourists frequent because of their “one-of-a-kind” items. Or all the small fashion stores people frequent due to their unique pieces – think silkworm scarves, indigenous stone bracelets and our Rowdy Bags.
When you buy from small businesses, you’re indirectly strengthening the national economy. Given the current health predicament we’re in, these financial differences matter.
Contributing to Community Improvements
On a more localised scale, buying from small businesses can also benefit you directly. Statistics for the past decade show that a large percentage of money spent on locally-owned retailers – versus global companies – stays in the community. These finances are then used to generate economic activity within the area i.e., supporting schools, parks, community lots, first responders, and the like.
Ultimately, local fundraisers in the area are great for jumpstarting allocated funds and backing specific projects. But for general, continuous community cash flow, supporting small businesses can definitely make a difference.
Personalised Service and Supplies
Many small businesses – unlike large retail chains – will adapt their products and services to meet the community’s needs. Continuous support for local businesses allows them to extrapolate buying patterns and preferences. Think, local convenience stores increasing their stock of Kleenex tissues, antibacterial wipes, and rubbing alcohol. Or, the farmer’s market extending their hours of operation. Or, the small hole-in-the-wall restaurant offering take-out options.
Small businesses, regardless of whether they’re brick-and-mortar or online – have the flexibility needed to cater to their immediate market. It’s much easier – and much less of a logistical nightmare – for them to change their stock and services to suit localised consumer demand.
Intimate Knowledge of the Product (and Manufacturer)
Small businesses are typically more transparent than global chains and retailers due to their intimate, personal nature. Shops that sell handmade or locally-made products are happy to tell customers what materials, ingredients, or substances go into their wares.
(Most of the time, the items they use are locally-sourced, too!)
At Rowdy Bags we’ve built our business on forging a close connection between consumer and creator. All our products are created by Rowdy staff and made from sustainably sourced Namibian leather. For us, no product is disposable, everything is built to be enjoyed for a lifetime.
This sort of honesty is a godsend during this where health is paramount. Whether its fashion or food, sales or services, knowing exactly what an item contains can largely impact a consumer’s purchasing decision.
Creates Circular, Sustainable Production
A personal connection between producer and consumer goes a long way to establishing a long-term relationship. Once a customer gets comfortable with a brand – on a personal and/or emotional level – they’re likely to continue buying from them.
Said personal connection is easier to establish with small, locally-owned businesses
Once you become a repeat customer for a small business, you not only contribute to the local economy and livelihood. You also become an integral part in instituting a circular, sustainable production system that maximises resources and minimises waste.
As we mentioned earlier, most local businesses source from other local businesses. This continued cycle of support helps combat the throwaway culture of cheap and fast production.
Shopping small is the best way we can support local business owners. If you have the means to purchase from big-name brands, redirecting even a portion of your earnings to your local mom-and-pop shop could mean the world to them AND up your style-stakes with one-of-a-kind pieces.