It’s the most wonderful time of the year – unless, of course, you are a budding business struggling to make it through these trying times. Certainly, this holiday season in particular presents both a challenge for boutique companies and an opportunity to recoup some losses.
It’s always great to give love to smaller companies, stores and brands — they offer you unique items and services and you help them succeed. It’s a win-win, really. But, right now, your patronage is especially appreciated. So while you’re in the gifting frame of mind, take a step back from your typical purchasing habits and think creatively. We’re sharing five ways to “shop small” and help make it a merry month for online boutique businesses, too.
Buy a restaurant gift card
Local mom-and-pop restaurants are seriously hurting right now. With COVID-19 raging all around the country and many restaurant doors shuttered, local eateries are struggling to stay afloat and find creative ways to maintain staff and serve customers. Buying restaurant gift cards for friends and families is a huge help – in more ways that one. You can give someone a freebie night of fabulous take-out or delivery and boost a business that really needs the financial support.
What’s more, while you’re picking up your gift cards, consider placing a catering order for your family’s holiday meal or dessert course.
Shop boutiques instead
Don’t get us wrong; we love big-box retail stores for their convenience and wide array of options. However, right now all those unique neighborhood toy shops, book stores and niche boutiques could really use a boost. If you’re able to shop in-store safely (mask up and practical physical distancing!), show your love to a local community spot; it’ll help more than you can imagine.
Don’t feel comfortable shopping in person? Get the small boutique experience from the comfort of your own couch by browsing brands like Wear Pact, Rothy’s, Wolven and more.
If you’re going to be loading toys under the tree, consider shopping for unique items from a small brand with a big mission and earn Cash Back while you’re at it. Fat Brain Toys is one of our favorites. It got its humble start as a “garage start-up,” and the growing business still maintains its roots with a core goal to deliver high-quality, inspiring, and educational games and toys families can enjoy together.
Now more than ever kids, grown-ups, everyone(!) could use some fun activities while stuck at home. There are a plethora of small-business subscription box options to try that cater to lots of hobbies and passions. KiwiCo has awesome STEM options for aspiring engineers of all ages — and you can’t lose with 50% off your first box, and Little Passports is an adorable choice for curious kiddos with early wanderlust.
The holidays are always hectic, and this season is no different (but also completely different!). Shop now and don’t wait until the last minute, especially if you are purchasing from a small online business. Shipping companies are already at full capacity, and companies are warning customers of potential delays, so don’t procrastinate your present purchasing.
Don’t know what to get your loved one this super-strange year? A little greenery is always a good choice, especially if the recipient is stuck at home. Bloomscape offers vibrant plants that liven up any living space. Shop now and earn Cash Back, but plan accordingly – most items ship within five to seven days and can take up to five additional days in transit.
Think outside the (gift) box when it comes to shopping small this season. In addition to getting gifts from small businesses, you can find some really amazing stationery, cards and wrapping paper from niche companies.
Consider ordering stationery from Crane & Co. to mail with all your gifts. And if you’ll be sending holiday cards to your friends and acquaintances, choose your maker wisely. Minted supports rising artists through their creative card designs, so by ordering your holiday greeting notes from this site, you’ll also help a budding creator.
This holiday season, give unique gifts and support small businesses. It’s one way to show your love to friends and family and give back to your community. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to shop with Rakuten to earn Cash Back on all your purchases. If you’re not yet a member, join for free today and enjoy a Welcome Bonus with your first qualified purchase. Supporting your own bank account while supporting small businesses? Now, that’s the best way to do it!
Lauren is a digital editor, freelance writer, and Instagram aficionado with a feisty five-year-old boy and a sassy two-year-old diva at home. With a passion for family, travel, style, and alliteration, she spends her days chasing children, chugging coffee, and daydreaming about sleep. As a veteran lifestyle editor and media mom, Lauren loves to find ways to make the aspirational attainable for all the overwhelmed parents out there—because we really need to stick together! Lauren lives with her husband and kiddos in the suburbs of New York City.