Benefits of shopping local this week and skipping Black Friday.
Kate Couch/ The Broadside
It’s easy to get caught up in the trend of buying bulk and buying cheap. Waiting in line at Best Buy to get the PS5 might seem like it’s worth it but with this year it’s probably best to just skip Black Friday altogether. With thousands of local business owners struggling to pay rent and people losing their jobs, the best thing we can do this Christmas is pouring our money back into the community!
For most people, Black Friday is just the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The day after Thanksgiving you get up early, grab your list and get it all done before the sun goes down. But there is a lot more history to this day than most people realize. Staring in the 1950s many women were in the workforce. It frequently became a trend for people to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving (Friday) so they could shop (read more about that here). By the mid-sixties, the term “Black Friday” was coined and used in ads to market one of the country’s biggest shopping days of the year.
It took a few years for retailers to use this day to their advantage. Many businesses began to give employees four-day weekends since so many were calling in sick and sales of retail stores went up nearly 70% according to an article by The Balance. By the 70s the retailers had realized they could give large discounts to drive up sales even more. This only went downhill because by their early 2000s Black Friday craziness peaked when a man was trampled to death at a Walmart. Since that happened, things have calmed down, but Black Friday is still a giant shopping day for Americans and retailers make hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In 2010 American Express launched Shop Small Saturday to celebrate small businesses and support them during the biggest shopping time of the year. In 2011 the Senate recognized the day. They encouraged consumers to make a list of small businesses and do their holiday shopping. Some small businesses have sales and clearance events to make customers feel as they’re still getting a good deal.
There are lots of benefits to shopping small this week but a notable one is helping the community. Kirsten Gilreath owner of Ju-bee-lee and Jack+Millie had some input on why you should shop small. She explains how for every $100 you use to shop small $68 of that goes back in the community whereas for every $100 spent at a big box store only $43 of it goes back into the community. You also help support local jobs and encourage the community to grow in entrepreneurship. With an increased need for more local business, the needs will be met with more jobs and more local stores. In addition to this, you get a more family and neighborhood experience with people who want to help you find what you are looking for.
Gilreath told me her stores had to be closed for 2 months this year. “We lost 2 months of revenue and had to lay off all of our employees. It has been one of the hardest experiences to weather as a shop owner.”
Many stores are taking increased precautions and only allowing 75% or less capacity at a time. Gilreath said her stores limit customers and sanitize, “We limited our customers to six at a time, requiring masks and the use of hand sanitizer. I hope that everyone can understand that shops and local businesses are all doing the best they can to keep the employees and customers safe. We all care so much about our community, our employees, the culture of our town, and the longevity of our businesses. Locally owned businesses really need the support of locals now more than ever.” Even though lines and wait times will be a bit longer, Gilreath and other business owners believe that they can withstand this and still give customers a safe shopping experience.
Even though local businesses do tend to be more expensive than shopping-cheap Black Friday deals or even shopping at online retailers like Amazon, the amount of the money that goes back into the community and supporting those around you and will go to local jobs. That is something that’s extremely important right now. Spend the extra couple of dollars and support your neighbors and friends.