2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and it’s been particularly tough for small business owners. Many are coping with the unique financial, staffing and supply challenges of operating during a global pandemic.
It means that Christmas 2020 is going to be so important; it’s the biggest shopping period of the year and could mean the difference between small businesses staying open and able to trade into 2021 or having to shutdown forever.
We want to make the case for supporting small businesses this Christmas. We’d encourage anyone shopping for gifts to consider buying from smaller retailers and e-commerce stores because your pounds and dollars have a huge impact on the people behind small storefronts.
- The biggest reason for supporting small businesses this Christmas is that they often stock unique and unusual items. This gives you the best shot at buying a present that’s going to genuinely impress the person you’re sending it to. It could be headphone covers for the gym, a custom-made piece of jewelry or a unique clothing brand that you won’t find on the high street.
Because we all know what’s on the high street: the Christmas gifts that everyone else buys and everyone browses. It’s all nicely boxed and it’s certainly convenient but it can be generic and feel uninspired. This type of off-the-shelf product can be underwhelming to unwrap. Supporting small businesses gives you access to a wider selection of gift ideas which doesn’t only help the small business owner to scale up but it also helps you give better gifts.
- Unlike some of the big players on the high street and online, small businesses pay tax; they contribute to the economy and often play a role in their local communities. You’ll also find that small businesses developed out of passion projects. They’re founded by people who turn the things they love into the products and services that others can enjoy. Pick the right small business and you’re helping to support someone’s art, skills and education. If your read the origin stories of small businesses, you’ll usually find that they were set-up to solve a problem.
GymHugz started with moisture-resistant headphone covers. After ruining several pairs of Beats headphones by wearing them in the gym, the founder created a way to listen to music whilst working out without ruining the earcups. Thousands of customers are able to protect their sound because of it.
- Shopping online with a small business means you can send the item directly to the recipient. Many companies offer a gift-wrapping service at this time of the year so you don’t even need to worry about getting wrapping paper in. During COVID, this is ideal for anyone shielding or self-isolating. Even if there’s no gift wrap option you can always contact the seller and ask if they could add gift wrap for a couple of pounds extra. Small business owners are often more flexible than larger ones because they can often deal with the customer directly.
How to shop small this Christmas
- Think about what the recipient loves to do or what represents a big part of their life. This could be poetry, music, literature, traveling, cricket or mechanics. Let’s say you’re looking for a thoughtful gift for a personal trainer. You could go to the big sports retailers or you could look at smaller businesses or platforms like Etsy and Not on the High Street to shop gifts within the fitness umbrella. You’ll probably find items that you wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. You might find a new gym bag or a pair of tie dye high ankle socks or a succulent in a kettle bell planter. You’ll find way more ideas by searching small business websites and platforms that a high street shelf.
- Small business often have secure and safe ways to pay for purchases. If you’re unsure, then look for Paypal to make sure your money is protected. Be careful of websites that only accept bank transfers as you won’t have any recourse to get your money back if something goes wrong with the transaction or if the seller is a scammer.
- You can also make use of websites that are platforms for small business owners. Etsy and Not on the High Street are great examples of this. You can search them as you would a high street storefront and you pay securely through the website. You can also read reviews for some idea as to the quality and design of what you’re buying. Many also offer bespoke designs or customisation.
- Asking friends and family can be a great way to find out where’s good to shop and to ask about the experience of ordering as well as the final product. You can use websites like TrustPilot and FeeFo for some small businesses.
- Keep an eye out for online events. Christmas fairs won’t be going ahead in-person so many will have moved online. The beauty of it being held on the internet is that you can pop by when it suits you to browse. Just keep an eye on the last posting dates before Christmas to ensure whatever you’re buying arrives in time. In the UK, December 21st is the last posting day for 1st class. You can find the other dates by checking the Royal Mail website.
It’s tempting to say that we shouldn’t give gifts this Christmas. It’s understandable with so many people facing financial difficulties as well as non-essential retailers having to close again. But a small gift doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You can buy meaningful gifts that are less than £20. If you are able to afford it, then a thoughtful present from a small business could help put a smile on the face of someone and who doesn’t want that in 2020?
And of course, small businesses don’t only offer small gifts. You can buy metalwork for the garden or pieces of furniture. Whatever you’re looking for you’re sure to find a small or local company selling the thing you need. For example, GymHugz also sells weight plates and barbells. And when you buy from us, the courier is getting a workout, too :P
Small businesses are easy to overlook in favour of big-brand names and high street retailers but they can be the key to bagging that amazing gift for someone special in 2020. And when you buy from small business owners, you’re making a big difference to the lives of the people behind these extraordinary products.