Voting with your Dollars :: Small Business Saturday and Beyond

With the most recent election behind us, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to see the word “vote” any time soon. Face it, it’s been a heated month, and I would rather think about snicker doodle, snuggling and Amy Grant’s Jingle Bell Rock.cedar-falls-1731519_1280

Given the political climate of our country, sometimes I feel helpless hearing hateful words and seeing acts of violence committed. I want to make a change in our nation, but I don’t know how. My voice is so small compared to those in the media and politicians on the podium. Sure, I can teach my child how to love another. And I can love those around me regardless of who they voted for. But I want more than that.

Small Business Saturday

I heard the term vote with your dollars a couple years ago. Since then, I’ve become more aware of economics and environmental welfare (not to say I am an expert on either topic by any means). But I do believe intentionally moving money from my pocket into someone else’s pocket can have a big impact on not only current businesses, but the future of our country.

Many cities have caught onto this trend of Small Business Saturday or “shop mom and pop.” Shopping with smaller entrepreneurs not only brings revenue to local families, but it creates jobs for community members. It, also, encourages fair wages and safer working conditions compared to some countries who have poor governance over labor practices.

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While, I’m a big fan of small businesses, I would encourage you to take it even a step further. While shopping at your local clothing boutique may be profitable to that business, I have to ask myself where does their merchandise come from? How many warehouses or trucks has that product been on before it reaches the store?

I’m not proposing you start hounding the salesperson at every store you enter. Or refuse to buy merchandise from Wal-Mart. But I would encourage you to slowly start reading labels. Pay attention to the Made in ____  . Look for items that are not only sold in local stores, but made locally.

While this might sound time consuming, you would be surprised at how many local companies sell products you are already buying from bigger conglomerates. Get on Etsy and search for New Orleans, Metairie or Louisiana. You will find many local business owners whose merchandise never sees a store shelf, distribution truck or storage box. Now, that’s local!

The benefits of buying local products are exponential. Not only do business owners make money, you know who you’re giving your money to. If you don’t believe me, go into Langenstein’s and you might run into Anita, the creator of Gourmet Fournet Creole Onion Dip. She will personally thank you for buying her cream cheese and tell you all about her family’s recipe.

Other perks to buying locally made goods are reduced shipping costs (which usually means lower prices for you), decreased gas emissions from delivery trucks and less preservatives in foods.

Many stores carry locally made clothing, candles, cosmetics, kombucha, stationery, and toys. Just ask when you walk in! Some of our favorite local shops are LoomedTwo Sprouts, Zele and ZukaBaby. Little Pnuts Toy Shoppe will also have special giveaways, sales, deep discounts, door prizes and more on Small Business Saturday!

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What happens after Saturday?

If you’re really organized (ahem, 4am shoppers), you may get most of your Christmas shopping done on either Black Friday, SBS or Cyber Monday. But if you’re like me, the month of December is where the spending happens. While my belly stays full throughout the month, my pocket book usually looks pretty empty.

Continuing to shop small is an admirable practice. But I would rather eat lumps of coal than bring my active toddler into store after store during the holiday season.

Thanks to the internet, we have access to buying gifts and other holiday goods without leaving our home. While this may not sound so “local” to you, you can still vote for your favorite companies with your dollars.

With a little research, you will find numerous companies that manufacture their products in the USA or give the label Fair Trade to ensure your purchases weren’t made in a sweatchristmas-shopping-1088248_1280shop in Taiwan.

For many of you, this may mean thinking outside of the box. Does your neighbor need another bottle of Bath and Body Works lotion? Or would she appreciate a bag of French Truck coffee? (Bonus, you can buy it at the grocery store instead of going to the crowded mall!)

The bottom line is that any effort to bring commerce to our city or country is better than none. But,there’s more to the story.  Next time you reach for that scented candle, ask yourself if there is another candle that deserves your vote more? 

Use your dollars to make the world a better place!!

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