Why shop at small businesses this holiday season?

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

The shopping season is in full swing, with downtown streets aglow with Christmas lights and shoppers swaddled in parkas and ear muffs. 

The Sandpoint Shopping District will host its final special shopping night of the year Thursday, Dec. 23 with the “Are you Yeti for Christmas?” event. 

The yeti has been spotted all over downtown for the Sandpoint Shopping District’s “Are You Yeti for Christmas?” event. He appears here pilfering a pizza from Pend d’Oreille Winery. Courtesy photo.

“All the shops will be open until 7 p.m. for late-night shopping and we’re going to have a yeti wandering the streets this year,” said Sandpoint Shopping District spokesperson Deanna Harris. 

Harris also said shopping in the downtown corridor this year has begun earlier than in the past — most likely because shoppers have expressed concern about inventory being limited due to pandemic supply chain issues.

“Everybody is in the shopping mode,” she said.

When it comes to holiday shopping, it’s important to support small businesses as much as possible instead of relying on box stores or online ordering. Here are several reasons why shopping small is a good thing:

• Small businesses give back to the community. Businesses pay sales taxes to the city and county in which they are located, meaning that by supporting your local small businesses, you are also supporting public schools, parks, roads and sidewalks. A study by Civic Economics found that “on average, 48% of each purchase at local independent businesses is recirculated locally, compared to less than 14% of purchases at chain stores.”

• Small businesses employ the community. More than half of the jobs created in the United States since 1995 were created by small businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, since 1990, big businesses have eliminated 4 million jobs, while small businesses added 8 million jobs.

• Small businesses provide greater access to diverse products. While chain stores often carry the same product lines, small businesses offer unique products that are made on smaller scales, creating the potential for a truly unique gift this holiday season.

• It feels good to support your community. Let’s face it, buying a cup of coffee from Evans Brothers feels better than one from Starbucks. Buying from a small business feels like you’re supporting your community, while shopping at a big box store feels like you’re lining the pockets of another multinational corporation.

• Online shopping might be convenient, but it’s not supporting your community. Sure, it’s easy to click and shop, but have you considered how much it impacts the environment considering all the packaging and transportation it takes to send you an item? Also, a 2014 study found that 77% of online consumers made a return at least once and 20% return items regularly, compounding the impacts.

Support a healthy community by shopping small this holiday season, even if it’s just for one person on your list. Every little bit helps keep our community strong and healthy.

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