Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate great American traditions like pumpkin pie, football, and of course, holiday shopping. A new Thanksgiving weekend tradition is getting a lot of traction: Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday (occurring on Saturday, November 28th this year) encourages everyone to patronize locally owned shops and businesses and to recognize the contributions they make in our communities. It’s a chance for us to get to know our neighborhood establishments and experience the personal service, knowledgeable salespeople, and quality products that we can’t find at the big box retail stores.
Personal service works best on a small scale.
Global retailers see you as a little data blip on their global sales reports. They want to make sure you and most of your friends own the hot item(s) they’re promoting for the season. While these companies aren’t necessarily malicious, they simply cannot treat customers any differently, due to their sheer size. For example, when buying furniture from Pottery Barn or Ikea, you’re on your own to find the furniture you need. Even if you do find a piece of furniture that works, it is almost always available only in a generic style designed to appeal to mass markets.
In contrast, local furniture stores like The Guest Room know their customers personally. They learn who you are, what your style preferences are and what you want to accomplish. They’re not trying to get rid of a warehouse full of gooseneck table lamps, and that’s why they’re able to find pieces that exactly suit your needs, including custom furniture.
That special something lies off the beaten path.
Local furniture stores can offer pieces that you’ve never seen elsewhere and that you’ll never run across in your neighbor’s house. So, if you don’t like whatever trend the big box stores are pushing, head to an independent shop where you can find home decor that marches to your drum, not everyone else’s. You can explore products like those from Gabby and Bungalow 5, which don’t follow trends, but instead set them. The experienced staff of a local store can even help you plan your interior design or suggest accent pieces that you might not have thought of.
Integrity and quality grow close to home.
Local businesses also use local suppliers, so you know where the products come from. For example, most community furniture stores contract with U.S. manufacturers who build high-quality furnishing made to last. The salespeople can show you how each piece is made, why the construction makes a difference, and what materials have been used. You can be comfortable that the wood in these furnishings comes from sustainably managed forests and hasn’t been poached or clear-cut in another country. “Made in the U.S.A.” also means that the furniture production processes and finishes adhere to EPA standards, so you know they’re safe for your family.
Small business shopping makes economic sense.
Some people think that shopping at independent stores will be too expensive, but in the long run, high quality items that endure for generations cost less than cheaper ones that end up in a landfill or relegated to the “broken stuff” area of the basement. Still, if you’re concerned about cost, most neighborhood stores will help you find solutions within your budget.
Community businesses also contribute significantly more to the local economy than chains and e-tailers. A 2012 study in Utah found that local retailers return 52% of their revenue to the local economy while national chain retailers return just 14%. And small businesses have accounted for 65% of net new jobs over the last 17 years.
Last year, according to the National Retail Federation, 133.7 million people went shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend. This year, you’ll probably be one of them. Be sure to ake advantage of Small Business Saturday. Wander around downtown Leesburg, sip coffee in the chill amidst holiday décor, and say ‘hi’ to your neighborhood businesses. Don’t forget to stop in and see us at the Guest Room Furniture & Design. Taking care of our customers is our favorite tradition.