Since 2010, Small Business Saturday has been helping drive shoppers to locally owned businesses across the country. This year, skip Black Friday and instead head to your favorite small businesses the next day. You’ll likely find deals and specials, as well as new products put out especially for the occasion.

Still thinking about buying all of your holiday gifts at box stores this year? Keep reading to learn why we should all be shopping local this Christmas.

Support the Local Economy

Perhaps the biggest reason to shop locally is that more of your money stays in the local community. Whether you’re choosing to shop in your own city or your favorite small-town vacation destination, the money you spend supports the community in several ways.

To start, you’re supporting the small business owners, their families, and their employees. And when they turn around and use those profits or wages to pay for food, products, daycare, and more locally, that money continues to circulate within the community.

Another benefit of shopping locally is that a portion of the taxes charged on your purchases goes towards local facilities and municipalities. It helps fund your local police and fire departments, builds schools, and keeps your city’s roads maintained. 

Simply shopping at your local branch of a national chain store does still mean that a portion of your taxes stay local, and the money you spend helps pay wages for local people employed there. But while less than 14 percent of the money you spend at chain stores will stay in the area, nearly 50 percent of that spent at locally owned businesses goes right back into the community.

Find Unique and Creative Gifts

Whether you’re shopping for that special person in your life or that friend who already has everything, finding a unique and meaningful gift at a box store can be a challenge. You’re stuck choosing from the same old gifts year after year, and risk buying something your friend or family member already has.

When you shop locally, your gift options become far broader. You might find handmade art or decorations, fun and unique t-shirts, or other items you won’t find anywhere else. Besides just being unique, the items you’ll find in the small businesses in your community are likely to be much higher quality than the cheap, mass-produced products at most department stores.

A Better Shopping Experience

While there are exceptions to the rule, in most cases, the employees of those big box stores aren’t exactly devoted to their jobs. They may be friendly and knowledgable, but you aren’t likely to find the same level of commitment you’ll enjoy when you talk to a local store owner.

Their stores are often their creative outlets, their passions, and a huge part of their lives. That dedication and passion often shine through in how they greet their customers and help them find what they’re looking for.

Besides lively and friendly employees, many small businesses also offer a more relaxed, open shopping experience. Without endless aisles packed with products and harsh overhead lights, you can enjoy your shopping experience far more. With fewer items to choose from, you can browse and get a better look at potential gifts. While there may be some crowds on Small Business Saturday, they aren’t likely to be the same extent you’d have to fight if you shop at box stores on Black Friday.

Generate Future Growth in Your Community

Your purchases have an immediate impact on the local economy. But they also have a more far-reaching effect that many people don’t think about.

When you shop for your Christmas gifts at local stores, you help keep them open and thriving. They bring in more products and draw in a bigger crowd. Over time, their success inspires more small business owners to open their own stores, or maybe cafes, yoga studios, and other local businesses. Soon, these stores catch the eye of people who don’t live in town. When they grow popular enough, this downtown shopping area becomes a tourist destination of its own, which then spurs the growth of hotels, gas stations, and restaurants. With each new boost of growth, your town’s community thrives, more tax money is brought in, and everyone benefits.

Get Creative with Your Small Business Saturday

Whether you plan to head out on Small Business Saturday or not, supporting locally owned businesses is always important.

If you don’t need to shop for gifts, don’t worry. There are plenty of other ways to support small business owners. Check your area for non-chain yoga studios and gyms. A few times a month, swap your dinner at your favorite chain for one at a cafe or restaurant in your area. After dinner, pick up dessert from your corner bakery. Even getting your car serviced at local repair shops or donating your old clothes to small thrift shops in your area are ways to “shop” local.

Southern Utah is home to countless small towns, each with its own unique array of locally owned businesses. If you don’t call the region home, you can still shop local for fun and delicious finds. Your spending helps keep these small towns thriving so that future generations can visit. And some of your spending trickles down to support the state and national parks in the area, which are always worthy of investing in!