7 Ways to Support Small Businesses at the Holidays

Once the hustle and bustle of the holiday season sets in, it can be tempting to hop online and order all of your gifts from a big box store in one fell swoop. But making it a point to purchase items on your loved ones’ wishlists from small businesses can have a much larger impact on our community for years to come. Here are some changes you can make to your holiday shopping plans to help:

1. BUY GIFTS FROM LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESSES. This an obvious one, but the best way to support small businesses is to buy goods or services directly from them; that way as much of the dollar as possible stays in their pocket. Luckily, there are lots of different businesses in our community offering products that make great gifts, such as handmade cheeses from local creameries, screen-printed apparel from local artists, or bottles from local wineries. If you need more inspiration, start by researching online to find out what’s around you, or check out the Chamber of Commerce and tourism groups for lists of local businesses—some even put out holiday shopping guides! If that doesn’t lead you to new shops, put on your walking shoes and explore storefronts downtown. And be sure to visit booths at holiday festivals for particularly unique gift ideas. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the one-of-a-kind things you can find!

2. ORDER HOLIDAY CARDS FROM A LOCAL ARTIST OR PRINT SHOP. If you’re the type to send imaginative holiday cards to your loved ones, consider going local for this year’s set instead of ordering them from a chain. The odds are you already know a local graphic designer who would be up for taking on a holiday project for some extra cash. And if they know how to illustrate, they might be able to draw a unique portrait of your family for your holiday cards. Then at your request, they could send them to print at a local shop so your design and paper products both come from a community business.

3. MAKE YOUR HOLIDAY MEALS WITH LOCAL INGREDIENTS. It’s true that fewer fresh foods from local suppliers can be found on shelves as the weather turns cold, but you can still find lots of locally sourced meats and packaged ingredients available for your holiday meals. Just look for the local signs in our stores or use the local filter online to support area farmers and producers during the slower season. Should you prefer to skip the stress of making food for holiday gatherings yourself, another option is to order in from our deli or other local restaurant. Many offer limited-edition holiday menus from which you can order larger quantities than usual.

4. DECORATE YOUR DINNER TABLE WITH FLOWERS FROM A LOCAL FLORIST. Brighten up your home and wow your holiday party guests with beautiful table arrangements made by any one of the talented florists in the Chippewa Valley. Several offer unique flower packages that are only available during the holiday season. Send an arrangement as a gift, or treat yourself!

5. DONATE TO OR VOLUNTEER AT LOCAL NON-PROFITS. Monetary support is especially appreciated at local non-profits this time of year, but if you don’t have room in your budget, giving of your time is another option. Food pantries typically need volunteers to help with free community meals, or you could become a guide at a local museum to help tourists who are in town for the holidays learn more about the Chippewa Valley.

6. BUY GIFT CARDS FROM LOCAL BUSINESSES. On the occasion you can’t make it out to shop on Small Business Saturday, try to find gifts and can’t, or have no clue what to get your loved ones, you can always buy gift cards from small businesses that they can use after the holidays. Then you’re still supporting local while letting the recipient decide which gift, service, or experience they prefer.

7. THANK AND RECOMMEND LOCAL BUSINESSES. The easiest way to support small businesses during the holidays is to offer them encouragement. It’s been an especially tough few years for the people who run them; a smile and a few kind words will go further than you think, whether it’s said in person or online. Speaking of, following their social media profiles, leaving positive reviews, and engaging with their posts is another quick way to support your favorite local brands. Plus, it keeps you connected to them year-round!

Even just going out of your way to support one or two small businesses during the holiday season can make a big difference in the lives of their staff. Take the pledge to shop small so we can build a stronger local economy!

This article was originally published in the November/December 2022 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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