Thanksgiving, or the day after, marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. During the first few days we're driven to take advantage of sales (see Mashable photo story showing shoppers back to the early 1900s). Shopping starts on Black Friday and competes with Cyber Monday sales online. In 2010, American Express initiated Small Business Saturday, to encourage shoppers to shop at small, local businesses.
Market Square & Small Business Saturday
Think about your town — the center of town is often called market square. Market Square in Portsmouth, NH (upper left above) has been the economic and commercial center since the mid-1700s and the same is true of Newburyport, Massachusetts (lower right). During the holidays the streets are decorated, there are parades, the tree lighting and more based on local customs. These activities are supported by your local businesses, not Walmart!
We think of heading downtown to meet a friend for coffee. When shopping, we tend to head to the mall … but why? Yes, it's easier to park at the mall and there's a wider selection of stores and products. You get what everyone else has, and if it's a new coffee maker, that's probably what you want but wait … Here are reasons to shop local on small business Saturday (and we hope, year round too).
- Small business owners offer more personal customer service.
- Small business owners know their products much better than employees at large, national brands.
- Buying local means more money stays in the community (about 60% according to NBC).
We're all consumers and we get to decide where we shop. It's true that you don't want to pay more than is necessary. But I also consider the service you get when shopping, and afterwards — for installation, maintenance and repairs (can't forget my handyman business owner experience).
So here are some of my favorite home product stores on the NH seacoast where I live. You see that it's easy to buy local on Small Business Saturday, and every day of the year (well, some stores close on Sundays because owners need a day off). And while I like a great deal as much as anyone, if my local merchants can come within 10% of the big, box store pricing (they almost always do), I try to buy local.
Savvy Homeowner Tip – Notice how I know people by name, at each of my local home related businesses. When you get to know people, you get even better support and will enjoy creating your dream home even more.
When You Need New Flooring
B and C Floor Store, in Portsmouth, NH is owned by Brett and Carol Burgard. They are my go to resource for all flooring questions. They did a lot of work for me when I owned my handyman business. They've also helped me with articles about hardwood versus engineered wood flooring, kitchen floors with a cushion for a handyman customer (they loaned me samples) and so much more.
Lighting for That Special Room
When we were remodeling our 100 year old Victorian in Portsmouth, our electrician sent us to Rockingham Electric in Newington, NH. That's where I go to buy new light fixtures, as they have a wide range of choices from traditional New England (not me) to more contemporary pieces like my new dining room chandelier and wonderful Hubbardton Forge fixtures in the hallway.
And if you need help installing a great new lighting piece, call my friend (and president) Al Lawrence, at my favorite electric company in southern NH, Artisan Electric.
Accessories for Your Home
While I love picking up special home accessories when traveling on vacation, sometimes I need something and it isn't practical to wait. That's when you really want to have a few local shops where you can go to find that perfect chair, carpet or serving dish that's worth displaying when it's not on the dining room table.
One of my favorite stores on the NH seacoast is Amy Dutton Home, which oops … happens to be across the river from Portsmouth, in Kittery ME.
Holiday Decorating Starts at My Local Nursery
If you live on the NH seacoast, you've probably heard of Churchills Gardens, in Exeter NH. Not only do they have a great selection of holiday greens that we use to infuse the house with that Christmas smell, they have lots of events to help you decorate. My favorites have been making and decorating Christmas wreaths, learning how to create tablescapes with dishes, baskets and gifts from nature, and so many others.
When I've got questions, I seek out my friend Linda Zukas, with her 20+ years of experience.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season! And if you want more tips for the holidays, check out our series of Savvy Holiday Tips.