It is a new year and that means people are making resolutions. Some may only last a few weeks, while others might survive into the spring season and beyond. One major trend over the past couple years has been a shift away from too-big-to-fail corporations toward smaller, more local business. Consumers are resolving to shop small. Independent merchants are being embraced by many people who would rather see their dollar support a neighborhood business than end up in an executives 401(k). Small business owners have a unique opportunity to expand their markets through ecommerce, while continuing to cater to the locals who love them.
As the holiday season kicked off in November, American Express ran a campaign encouraging people to “Shop Small” and promoted “Small Business Saturday“. Of course, the giant credit card company was promoting shopping in general, and hoping you’d pay with plastic, but the campaign was a smart idea. People are finding pleasure in seeing a favorite restaurant down the street succeed. They want the little boutique on the corner to do well, and love chatting with the barista who asks about their life while starting their drink as soon as they walk in the door. A key strength of small businesses is that they know their customers and can easily make decisions to provide greater service.
Throughout 2012, I expect people to continue gravitating toward ideas of community. Companies such as Zipcar and city bike-sharing programs will grow as consumers seek sustainable alternatives. Local farms produce will be in high demand, credit unions will open more accounts, and people will increasingly consider shopping local; even if it means paying more money. For those seeking more feel-good vibes, a new startup called Lucky Ant gives anyone the opportunity to contribute money to neighborhood business projects. As a thank you for helping them reach their goals, companies can offer rewards and special perks to their “investors”. While you might not become a co-owner or shareholder, the idea behind Lucky Ant is that you will enjoy contributing to the local economy and gaining VIP status at the shops you love.
*Inspiration source: http://www.good.is