It is easy to overlook the small things: one perfect crystal of snow, the sparrow perched on a slender branch, a solitary cloud fastened to the blue sky. A laughing child, a door held open, music at the push of a button, or landscaping that pleases not just one homeowner, but passersby, as well, adds to the wealth of each day. The small moments ease our hearts — and we may not even recognize what trips our senses.
Small things have a great impact — and this coming Saturday recognizes something small that is all around us: small business. Cushioned on two sides by the kick-off to holiday shopping, Black Friday, and the stay-at-home answer to that day, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday celebrates local shops and the people who operate them. When big box stores beckon with fancy marketing and promotions, an environment of excitement is generated. Why not be excited by the come-hither of businesses right around the corner — and avoid the frenzy generated by cranky crowds and long lines?
Shopping small has benefits beyond gratifying shoppers. A survey by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business shows that last year, shoppers spent $15.4 billion at locally owned stores and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, and shop small shoppers were up 13 percent from 2015. When local businesses prosper, they appear inviting to those passing through the town — a temptation to pause and support those businesses. Jobs — part-time and full-time — are created. As businesses flourish, shopkeepers also reach out within the community: local restaurants and supermarkets thrive, and neighboring retailers are supported. Those workers in turn spend money within the community. It is a circle of love and a boon to the local economy.
Time is saved when a trip to buy a gift is 20 minutes, not an hour and a half. Thinking globally, walking from shop to shop saves gas while reducing the environmental carbon impact.
Is it simpler to sit down with a device and order a present? Perhaps; but at the loss of the sense of community established by face-to-face contact. The humanity of the season is apparent when conversation takes place across the counter or through chance encounters in the aisles.
Newtown small businesses offer numerous services and products suitable for holiday gift giving. There are stores pegged primarily as “gift shops,” but it is hard to think of a small business in town that does not present an opportunity for shoppers.
Auto accessories, garden tools, clothing, specialty chocolates, craft beers, fine wines and spirits, gourmet food items, plants, power and hand tools, scented candles, home decor, original artwork, toys, pet supplies, baby items… the possibilities within walking distance of a centrally parked car are amazing. Add to this the ease of gift cards for those difficult-to-buy-for people in your life, and holiday shopping becomes what it should be — joyful.
It is easy to overlook the small things; but what a loss that is. Shop small this holiday season and reap big rewards.