By Dr. Tyra Seldon
It’s that time of the year when many of us are looking forward to quality time with our families and being able to just relax. Couple that with gift lists, large crowds at the mall, and hectic shoppers, the holiday season can be a time of great joy and anticipation, but it can also be stressful.
For many small business owners, this can be a particularly tenuous season because we are sometimes forgotten in the chaotic rhythm and pacing that accompanies this time of the year. Because small businesses tend to be just that—small—they may not share the same prominence and visibility that larger stores and box stores have. In addition, our marketing and advertising budgets are typically a fraction of what larger competitors have, so you probably won’t see too many fancy commercials on TV or glitzy sales promotions popping up in your inbox.
So, here’s the key when it comes to supporting small businesses: You have to be intentional. By intentional, it may require that you drive a little further, peruse through several websites, or deliberately seek out businesses and vendors that have quality products/goods/services, but just not all of the pizazz. And it goes without saying that small businesses, especially Black businesses, need your support and here’s why:
- Many small businesses support and partner with other small businesses. Did you know that when you support one small business, there is a strong possibility that you are, indirectly, supporting another one? As with most industries, business owners tend to network and vend with other business owners. Therefore, it is not uncommon for companies to outsource or contract with others whom are similar in size. In essence, you are potentially supporting multiple small businesses/contractors/freelancers simply by deciding to support one.
- Contrary to popular belief, small does not mean less than or inferior. In fact, some of the best products that I have ever purchased were from small business owners. Often the quality, craftsmanship, and customer service are exceptional because for many of us, our livelihood is contingent upon the support of others. On numerous occasions, I have received handwritten notes, emails, and even follow-up phone calls from small business owners because they wanted to take an extra step to acknowledge their clients’ and customers’ patronage. It’s rare to receive that same type of attentiveness when shopping big.
- Business ownership is often a pathway to economic freedom. I don’t believe that you should support anyone just because, but I do think that we have a communal responsibility to at least consider each other when we make decisions about what we will consume and from whom. This is particularly important for the Black community because it helps to circulate the dollar even further in our communities. Many small business owners live in the communities they serve. This often means that they employ people from those communities, their tax dollars are recycled in that community, and that they contribute in philanthropic ways as well. The freedom that entrepreneurship gives is actually a gift that keeps on giving.
The next time you head out to go buy something, give some serious consideration to supporting a small business. I cannot speak for all of my peers, but I know that the overwhelming majority of us will sincerely appreciate it.
Dr. Tyra Seldon is the owner of Seldon Writing Group, LLC and a freelancer writer. She frequently writes about the intersections of race, culture, gender, and education. She can be contacted at www.seldonwritinggroup.com