Experiences of supporting small and local businesses



Light pole banner advocating for shopping small.

In what is seemingly more recent history, shopping small on sites such as Etsy has become all the rage. However, it can be just as easy to find ways to shop and support small businesses in person and locally.

There are many perks to shopping small: the profit goes directly to the owner, you can find eclectic one-of-a-kind items and you can even build a more personal connection with the employees, making your errands something to look forward to, rather than another chore on a busy day. 

Guilford economics professor Bob Williams shared his favorite way to support small businesses—attending the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market held every Saturday near NC A&T University.

 “Local farmers and small vendors bring their fresh produce, free-range eggs and meats and local foods that tease one’s senses,” said Williams. “ I know who’s growing the food I put in my body and how it’s raised.”

Small businesses can provide the comfort of knowing where your food and other products come from. First-year Sarah Wiseman, who buys her meat exclusively at a local butcher shop, enjoys this privilege. Small changes such as these can be a step toward adding shopping small into one’s daily, weekly or even monthly routine. 

Growing up in the booming college town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, first-year Emma Brody had firsthand experience with what it is like to be surrounded by small businesses. She recalled the opportunities that working at a locally owned acai bowl shop, The Purple Bowl (@purplebowlch), gave her. 

“We got to cater for big college sports events, like UNC basketball games where the owner, Paula, introduced us to athletes,” said Brody. “It was neat to see the connections being made through just working for a small business.”  

Outside the realm of food, small shops and businesses can also provide people with neat collectibles and one-of-a-kind items. Wiseman, a Greensboro local herself, shared her all-time favorite spot downtown, Design Archives (@designarchivesvintage), which is a vintage store filled shelf to shelf with everything from handmade jewelry to animal skulls. 

“It’s like stepping into a wonderland where you have no idea what you will find and every time you walk in there it’s something different,” said Wiseman. 

The environment of an overabundance of unique sundries is what makes the small shopping experience fun and encourages customers to return. 

Whether one knows it or not, the act of shopping small can have an incredible impact on the economies of their local communities. Williams expanded upon this by sharing something known as the spending multiplier. This concept says that each dollar spent within a community increases local jobs, therefore multiplying the rate of spending. 

With the spending multiplier in mind, Williams emphasized that “buy local” campaigns “make good sense as they support your neighbors.” 

Shopping locally is an amazing way to support hardworking people and stimulate the economy in your community or city, but don’t fret if you can’t get out in person, due to the pandemic or otherwise. There are always more shops online owned by entrepreneurs ecstatic to receive an order. So, the next time you are looking for a gift or simply want something new to spice up your wardrobe or meal, do a quick Google search of small owned shops that you can support.