Shopping local this holiday season

Hailey Steidle, Staff writer

Shopping is at an all-time high during the holiday season as people are purchasing gifts and traveling to see friends and family. Among the sea of big corporations, reports of unethical practices and unreliable companies, there has been a shift to purchasing from small and locally owned businesses. These businesses have always been an option for holiday buying; however, as large businesses offer bulk discounts and two-day shipping, small businesses were swept under the rug.

In recent years, more and more attention has been brought back to these ethical and sustainable companies. Large corporations, often referred to as box stores, have a history of being problematic when it comes to the treatment of their workers, the sustainability of products they sell and the ethics of their businesses. Companies like Walmart, Amazon, Shein and a plethora of others are all considered to be dangerous corporations that face backlash almost every day for the ethics of their practices. Issues like notoriously low wages, lack of health insurance, pensions, benefits and hours available for work are regarded as normal among their workers. For this reason, many people are turning to small or locally-owned businesses, which do good things for people and the planet.

Small businesses employ roughly 46% of all U.S. employees with 33.2 million small businesses in the U.S. alone. The effects of shopping from small businesses are often extremely positive. Most reviews of these businesses claim to have amazing customer service as the owners are striving to grow their businesses. It allows them to provide more personable and hands-on experiences, allowing you to personalize the specific purchases and getting advice from the creator of the products themselves. Shopping local also helps build communities by supporting your friends, family and neighbors. The businesses additionally hire within the community, creating more jobs and helping grow the economy of your town and surrounding areas. Many also claim they feel better after shopping locally because they are supporting a real person rather than supporting a major corporation. They know where their money is going, and they can feel good about splurging on products knowing the revenue is going somewhere good. Investing in local infrastructure is the best way to use your money while also receiving amazing products and services.

Over the past few years, options for small businesses have been more readily available to the average consumer. If you are looking for a hand-made option, good places to look could include Etsy or Amazon Handmade, both of which promote individually made products or products that can be customized. If you are looking for options that are vintage, you might want to look at websites like Depop or Poshmark, which allow individual sellers to market things that they may have upcycled or thrifted. Instagram may not seem like a small business; however, the platform is a great place for small or locally owned businesses to advertise their products. Checking hashtags on platforms like Facebook, Instagram or TikTok can allow you to look at hashtags of your area for any events that may be happening like a market or craft fair. TikTok has opened up an entirely new way to find small businesses. Artists use the platform to promote their work. Whether you are looking for jewelry, pottery, candles, custom art or virtually anything else, there are countless creators just a few clicks away. People also use the app to promote physical stores in their areas that deserve attention.

No matter where you shop this holiday season, if you have the option, take a look at the many locally owned shops near you or even take the search online and look for small-owned businesses. The results may just surprise you.