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by Maggie Germano
December 03, 2020
by Maggie Germano
December 03, 2020
The holiday season is coming up fast. I recently spoke with Stephanie Kibler, who is an online retail professional and personal finance blogger at PoorerThanYou.com, about how folks can be mindful of their budget this holiday season while still supporting small businesses. Stephanie had some fantastic advice for how you can be a responsible, supportive shopper this year.
Small businesses are just that: small. That means that they most likely don’t have a big team behind them to help them create products, take orders, and send out shipments. That also means that there is probably a limit to how many items they can sell this season. If you know there is something in particular that you would like to buy from your favorite small business, make sure that you shop early. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that the items you’re looking for will sell out before you have a chance to buy them. Plus, most small businesses won’t be able to provide two-day shipping like Amazon can. You want to make sure that you make your purchases early so that they arrive on time.
Not to belabor the point, but odds are, if you’re buying from a small business, you’re dealing with the same person for every step of the process. That means that most likely, there is only one person handling everything this year. They are creating the product, promoting their products, taking the orders, packing and shipping the items, and responding to any questions or concerns. That’s why it’s so important to be as patient as possible if anything goes wrong. It’s very likely that the small business owner already knows if something has gone wrong, and they definitely want to make it right for you. So try to be kind and remember the human behind the computer screen or telephone as you put in your orders.
This is one of the most important pieces of advice when it comes to gift-giving in general. Create and maintain a gift fund all year! That means that you should set a gift spending budget in the beginning of the year and make sure that you’re funding it throughout the year. The best way to do this is to set up automatic contributions that are being deducted from your paycheck or set up as a bank transfer. This way, you won’t get to the holiday season (or another important occasion) and panic because you can’t afford to buy gifts for anyone.
A great way to support small businesses while being able to anticipate your spending is to buy gift certificates. Perhaps you want to make sure that you are spending the same amount of money on each loved one. Perhaps you don’t know what to get for certain people, but you know which small businesses they are most interested in. Gift certificates are great solutions to these issues! The money still goes directly to the small business, but there is flexibility for what items the receiver ends up buying for themselves.
If people you love only want expensive items, or if the small business you want to support only sells high-end items, you don’t have to break your own budget. Reach out to other friends or family members and see if they will go in on a gift with you. Each year, my sisters and I typically go in on gifts for our parents, as what they want is usually a little bit more expensive. It allows us to gift what our parents really want without blowing our own individual holiday budgets. Enlist your loved ones to do the same when it makes sense for you.
Gift-giving can be difficult, especially if you’re buying for people who don’t want to have a lot of stuff in their home. A great way to get around this, and to support small businesses, is to buy items that can be consumed in one way or another. This could be food, alcohol, lotion, makeup, and beyond. Not only can these items be great gifts, but since they are consumable, they won’t take up space for very long. They are perfect for the minimalists in your life, or for those who already seem to have everything they need!
Supporting small businesses doesn’t always mean that you have to spend your money with them. You can also support them by letting them know if you notice any issues. Perhaps their website is down and they haven’t noticed. Perhaps sometimes is wrong with their check-out process. It could even be something as simple as a broken link or a typo on their website. When someone is busy running every aspect of their business, it can be really easy to overlook small mistakes. But those mistakes can impact the success of their business! So, if you notice when something is wrong, make sure that you reach out and (kindly) let your favorite small business know.