Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


How to Shop Small This Holiday Season

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(photo: William Alatriste/City Council)

The holiday season is upon us and we all know the temptation of online shopping. The ease of getting the things we want at the click of a button might seem harmless, but it has major consequences for local small businesses.

Shopping online takes away from the livelihood of local residents and strips the community of its extraordinary businesses. E-commerce also means you don’t have the ability to inspect your purchases before receipt, you have to go through the hassle of repackaging and returning items you don’t want to keep, and you’re depriving yourself of getting to know the business owners in your neighborhood.

The better way is the smaller way. Shopping small means you’re supporting your community. Small businesses are the backbone of New York’s local economy, with over 230,000 businesses, employing 3.69 million people. Besides contributing to the workforce, small businesses connect communities and help create unique, energetic neighborhoods throughout our city.

As the holiday shopping season approaches, I’m encouraging all New Yorkers to show some love to our small businesses. Here are some ways you can help your local small businesses that extend beyond just your purchasing power:

Participate in Small Business Saturday. Avoid the Black Friday mayhem and shop small on Saturday, November 30.

Pledge Your Shopping List to Your Community. This holiday season make a commitment to buy half of your shopping list from local small businesses. Jewelry, clothing, pottery, and books are all great gifts that can be found in your neighborhood. Consider gifting a “made in New York” basket with your favorite local items. 

Share Small Business Content on Social Media. A great way to support your favorite local businesses is to share their content on social media. It can be as simple as posting a picture on Instagram or checking in on Facebook.

Leave Positive Reviews. While word-of-mouth recommendations are always good for small businesses, it doesn’t hurt to leave positive reviews on Yelp and Google. Leave an online review for small businesses to get more traction and visibility.

Join the fun! Participate in seasonal fun on your block and in your neighborhood, or even in another neighborhood you enjoy or are eager to explore for the first time. From tree-lighting events to local gift guides, get involved and shop small.

While you’re preparing for this busy season, remember to continue supporting the diverse, independent small businesses that enrich neighborhoods across New York City. As we enter this busy holiday season, don’t forget to shop small!

Gregg Bishop is the Commissioner for the New York City Department of Small Business Services. On Twitter at @NYC_SBS and @GreggBishopNYC.

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