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Why It Pays Big To Support Small Businesses

Why It Pays Big To Support Small Businesses
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It’s been said time and again (by Charlie Brown, for instance) that the holidays in the US have lost their meaning and become a great shopping-and-spending fest. First Christmas became over-commercialized and now Thanksgiving — America’s national day of thankfulness — seems in danger of becoming the “day before you start your Black Friday shopping.” Around where I live in northern New Jersey, Halloween is also over-hyped, with stores devoted to decorations and costumes galore.

My mother always sewed costumes for my sister and me when we were children: We were “colonial girls” with beautiful frilly dresses in blue and pink that she made at her Singer sewing machine. Another year I was a rabbit and one year, a Native American (ok, an “Indian” as I said back in the 1970s) in a costume sewn by my mom that I decorated with fabric pens. When I was very young, I had looked enviously at the shiny, ready-made plastic costumes in the stores but soon came to appreciate how valuable, and much more special, a homemade, mom-sewn costume made just for me was.

I’m no seamstress — at the most, I hem my pants or sew on a button — but my mom is, as well as my late grandmother Ngin-Ngin and several great aunts. They all sewed clothes (Ngin-Ngin was known to criticize the poor sewing of the chain-store clothes we had wasted our money on) and knit sweaters, crocheted afghans, cooked everything from scratch. Those Halloween costumes my mom made and years of home-cooked Chinese food have given me a huge appreciation for making things yourself, for knowing how the clothes you’re wearing or the food you’re digging into was made and by whom.

I’d love to make all my gifts and doing so seems a proper way to occupy Black Friday and embrace Buy Nothing Day. My time and talents being lacking in regard to sewing and cooking, I usually limit my holiday gift-making to creating photo calendars and cards for relatives. But I like to seek out things that are sold and made by individuals. This holiday season, my aunts and cousins will receive hand-designed and printed towels from Skinny Laminx. I’ve no knitting ability and have been glad to find the creations of TortillaGirl. A  hand-sewn bag from Moop in Pittsburgh or a backpack from Infusion or Sketchbook in Oregon make carting around books, a computer, coffee (which tastes better in a nice cup, no?), lunch, colored chalk and everything I need to teach a breeze on the crowded cars of New Jersey Transit and the PATH train.

Some of these handmade gifts do cost more than what you’ll find in Target or Macy’s. By buying directly from the person who makes what you’re buying, your dollars are going right to the source, directly to the person who is supporting her or his own small business, for their materials and equipment and labor rather than to Some Large Multinational Conglomerate that divvies out the smallest possible piece of profit to the women sewing in sweatshop conditions in another country.

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Photo by kate*

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8:49AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

9:16AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

I am very pro-small business. Great to see small businesses join together on platforms like ETSY, because it makes it easier for me to find small business items I like. I am engaged and using Knack for my registry, which is also a great way to find unique small business offerings.

9:19PM PST on Nov 29, 2011

Small business (free enterprise) is the concept this country was originanlly founded upon. Support your local, small businesses....send a message to those companies who want to ruin their livelihood!

9:05AM PST on Nov 29, 2011

It is also why out-sourcing and off-shoring should be curtailed. IT is allowing unfair competition by substantively foreign companies.

Corporations have over-powered our government which now believes that out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs is inevitable and necessary with expectations that the middle class should fall on their swords. It is the underlying cause of the financial collapse and borders on national security with the loss of our middle class tax base. Yet, this nation does nothing, not even demand it be restricted by whatever method. International businesses are doing the UN-AMERICAN activity of destroying U.S. salaries, U.S. businesses that hire in the U.S., and as an end result, destroying the U.S. marketplace while still demanding BUSINESS ENTITLEMENTS and protections for themselves.

Infrastructure spending and tax breaks will not replace enough jobs to keep up with the hemorrhaging loss of U.S. jobs from out-sourcing over seas. Neither party will do anything about it unless we begin grass roots efforts to protest out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs. If nothing is done we will deserve what we get and it will get a lot worse before it gets better.

8:24AM PST on Nov 29, 2011

Etsy is a great way to start ;)

6:46AM PST on Nov 29, 2011

Small businesses are in crisis and being snuffed out by the likes of Walmart and Target. Every time one of those stores opens you can watch the small businesses close their doors. We are losing part of our culture and supporting overseas economies NOT our own by doing so. These stores buy cheaply and from overseas. Local stores support local artists and entrepreneurs. Show them you care and help keep jobs in THIS country. Skip Walmart buy locally.

12:42AM PST on Nov 29, 2011

thank you

12:34AM PST on Nov 29, 2011

Unfortunately, Wal-Mart has most people hypnotized. Every time I drive past a Wal-Mart, the parking lot is full. I don't like going in there because all the walking I have to do to find what I want, waiting in long lines in the checkout, and of course the cheap Chinese crap. I do admit I go in there once in awhile, for underwear and pants.Wal-Mart caused a lot of the competition to close, so the only choice left was Wal-Mart. But ever since I got the internet, I try to shop online. And not Wal-Mart. I also try to find stuff made in the USA. If none are available, I have to buy the imports or do without. Remember years ago when "made in USA" was a Wal-Mart slogan? Not anymore.

8:55PM PST on Nov 28, 2011

avoid the big businesses and shop local as much as possible...

7:00PM PST on Nov 28, 2011

thank you...agreed, I always prefer to help small and local businesses when I have the actually know who made the products and their ethics....

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