Small business owners care about the products they make
"My advantage over a big retailer is that I truly care about the quality of everything I make," explains Ina Melendez, creator of INA DAYLE, a line of personal care products and artistic prints. The brand's natural skin and hair care products are made locally with locally sourced ingredients in Melendez's hometown of Miami. "All my products are made with loads of love, putting the customer first," she says. (Consider these expert tips to save money on your holiday shopping.)
Small businesses are committed to improving their neighborhoods
"I love being able to affect people's lives on a personal basis, whether it be making a customer laugh or providing beautiful product at a great price," says Shayna Norwood, owner of Steel Petal Press, a Chicago-based letterpress studio. "When our gift shop opened up in June of 2016, it really filled a shopping void in our neighborhood, consisting of mostly bars and restaurants. Everyone who visits our store is so thankful to have a great, fun, and affordable place to shop." By shopping local, Norwood's customers also support local artists who sell their work in her boutique on Small Business Saturday and beyond.
Small business owners get to know their customers really well
"I interact in my shop or over email with every single customer. I know them by first name and I learn about their families and interests," says Joanna Alberti, creative director and owner of philoSophie's Stationery & Gifts in Spencerport, New York. Alberti has an ongoing relationship with her customers, and she has worked with some families year after year. "I've worked on bridal shower invitations that have led to working on wedding invitations, baby shower invitations, and first birthday party invites—all for the same customer." It's this kind of relationship and customer service that can't be found in a large business setting.
Small business owners support causes near and dear to their hearts
For every skin and hair care product sold, Melendez donates $1 to Lyme disease research and awareness, and for every print sold, she donates 10 percent of the profits to Lyme disease and cystic fibrosis research. Melendez has goals to create awareness for invisible diseases and encourages people to love themselves just the way they are: beautifully imperfect.
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Small business owners take the utmost pride in their work
"Our work is a labor of love," says Norwood. "From printing each paper through our vintage presses, to individually packaging and sleeving each card, everything is handmade, and it's a craft we are proud to maintain." This careful attention to detail is yet another reason to shop local. (Consider sending these creative thank-you gift ideas for every occasion.)
Small business owners value the little details
Rebecca VanDeMark owns and operates December Caravan, an Etsy shop based out of Burlington, Vermont. She creates and sells unique and beautiful scrapbooks, cards, artwork, memory pieces, and family treasures out of everyday materials, like sheets of music and ribbons. "I am reminded constantly that the smallest gift can be the greatest, and so I treasure using tons of small details in my pieces," says VanDeMark. With personalized touches, she hopes to inspire joy and hope in every part of a person's life through her handmade creations.
Their community becomes part of their family
"Everyone is welcome in our little haven," says Juliet Abeille, owner, designer, and artist at L'abeille Vintage, an eco-conscious boutique where French country meets vintage chic style in Lake Bluff, Illinois. "We have such a lovely community who love what we do and become our ambassadors. They reminisce about furniture that reminds them of the past, and they appreciate how we change it and give it new life." Currently, Abeille is transforming and old, 1940s roadhouse into the location of her new shop named Loverly Cottage. "The community is so excited to see the evolution from roadhouse to Loverly," she says.
Small business owners are experts in their respective industries
Small business owners are passionate about what they do, and they want to help you find the perfect item. "We are happy to work with our customers to create something beautiful for their home or pick out a wonderful gift. I have an innate ability to find exactly what the customer is looking for. Once they give me their inspiration, the perfect item practically falls at my feet," says Abeille. When you shop local, you have access to the owner's expertise and savvy suggestions. (This sales clerk's story will make you long for a small-town Christmas holiday.)
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Small buisness owners live and die by feedback and online reviews
If you find a local product or service you love, tell your friends, write a review on Yelp, or share it on your Instagram, please! As a small business owner, Melendez says she doesn't have the budget or the time for a big public relations' campaign that would land her coverage in a magazine or TV segment. As a customer, the best thing you can do to support a favorite, local small business is to share your experience, however you can. (Here's what you should know about spotting fake online reviews.)