Let’s commit to shop small, local this holiday season

DeAndra McCain

DeAndra McCain

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and we’ve all been tasked with finding amazing gifts for everyone on our lists. Sometimes it feels like an impossible mission, but I guarantee it can be done. Even better, I guarantee it can be done locally.

Considering that the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce works with businesses throughout Genesee County, our employees are well-versed in the local resources available to consumers— which is why we’re offering custom gift recommendations throughout the holiday season.

Whether you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for a 12-year-old science buff or a spa treatment for a deserving mom, just submit your shopping dilemma at flintandgenesee.org/holidayshopper. From there, one of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce’s resident “Holiday Shoppers” will send you a list of gift ideas via email that can be purchased through Chamber members. Our idea mavens will also share some of their suggestions on a weekly basis via our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts (@flintandgenesee).

The goal behind this initiative? To support the businesses that make up such a large part of our community fabric. Research shows that when you buy from a locally owned independent retailer, about 48 percent of your purchase is recirculated into the community through employee payroll, purchases from other area businesses and donations to local charities. That’s significant.

I point this out because, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) Holiday Spending Survey, nearly 60 percent of consumers plan to shop online this holiday. Other popular shopping destinations include department and discount stores. In contrast, just 25 percent of shoppers plan to shop at small, local businesses.

Coming from a county where small businesses account for such a significant portion of our workforce, that seems backward to me. We are home to hundreds of businesses that offer products, services and gift cards that would make great gifts year-round. Let’s leverage that.

On Nov. 25, several Chamber members will host events and promotions as part of Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to celebrating small businesses and all they do for their communities. For example, Flint Handmade will bring together more than 40 local crafters and artisans for its 11th Annual Holiday Craft Market at the Flint Masonic Temple. And Fireside Coffee in Swartz Creek, and Southfield Gold & Diamonds and Wears Like New in Flint, will also offer specials.

I urge you to visit some of these businesses on Saturday. I also hope you continue the “shop small” effort beyond this weekend and into the rest of the holiday season.

Who knows? Maybe this year, we can defy the forecast laid out by the NRF by doing most—if not all—of our holiday shopping with small, local businesses.

Now that’s a mission I can get behind.

DeAndra McCain is a Group Vice President at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.

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