Editorials, Opinion

Shop local for holidays

The hustle of Black Friday and the more subdued bustle of Small Business Saturday are already behind us, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to shop local.

For the many of us who don’t complete our Christmas to-do list by the end of Thanksgiving weekend, there are still 27 shopping days left (28, if you’re one of those daredevils who hits the stores on Christmas Eve). And with nearly a month left to shop, there’s no reason you can’t find the perfect something while supporting a small business.

While it may be easier to shop a big box store or order from a large online retailer, you actually help your local economy more when you shop at local businesses. According to the Better Business Bureau, when you spend $100 at a locally owned store, $68 stays within the community, vs. only $43 of $100 spent at a non-locally owned shop.

One of the ways that money stays local is through charity work and donations. The BBB says 52% of small businesses donate to charitable causes, and of those that do, 90% donate to local causes, from youth sports teams to traditional charities.

Small businesses are also great employers, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The Small Business Administration estimates that small businesses created 64% of private sector jobs between 1995 and 2020. And the BBB’s statistics show that people employed by local businesses tend to be happier and more committed to their employers — and to feel like their employers are equally committed to them.

Now that we’ve convinced you (hopefully) to support small and local businesses, here’s how to find them.

  • You can start with the Gift Guide available in today’s paper. It’s not exhaustive, but it may spark a few ideas (and you might find some great deals).
  • Visit the shops and eateries in Downtown Morgantown. There’s free parking downtown today, and the city will offer free parking again from Dec. 17 to Dec. 26.
  • Keep an eye out for markets and craft shows. These are great places to get unique gifts and support local artisans. If you missed the one yesterday, there will be another Moonlight Market on Dec. 17.
  • If you’re an online shopper, Amazon has a feature that allows you to shop small and medium-sized businesses. Click on the left sidebar, scroll down to “Programs and Features” and click “see all” to view more options. Scroll down to “Small & Medium Businesses” and click the arrow. A new menu should appear that allows you to choose “Shop Small & Medium Businesses,” “Discover Women-Owned Businesses,” “Explore Family-Focused Businesses,” “Support Artisans” or “Celebrate Innnovator-Makers.” You can also check out websites like Etsy that are specifically designed to be marketplaces for small businesses. However, this doesn’t guarantee you’re shopping with a local business.
  • Sometimes the perfect gift isn’t an object — sometimes it’s an experience. There are dozens of amazing restaurants/cafes and fun activities like climbing, ax throwing, bowling or paint-and-sips all around Morgantown. Many businesses will offer gift certificates, especially around the holidays.

While it’s not always convenient to shop local, there are so many upsides to supporting small businesses that it’s well worth the effort.