We’re days away from the biggest retail event of the year. As shoppers check their bank balances and refresh their wishlists ahead of Black Friday, small businesses everywhere are holding their breath, crossing all digits, and wishing on a star. Why? Because as South Africans gear up to score themselves a bargain, big box stores are pulling out all the stops as they vie for the lucrative attention of bargain-hungry shoppers – making it that little bit more difficult for small businesses to compete.
Before you whip out your credit card, here are the five reasons why supporting small is where it’s at this Black Friday:
1. Without small businesses, our economy would come to a complete standstill
Small businesses employ between 50% and 60% of South Africa’s workforce and contribute around 34% to our GDP. That’s a big deal: it’s not the big guns who’re keeping the wheels of commerce turning, but the small and medium enterprises run by the underdogs of Mzansi. In other words, every cent you spend at a small business ultimately galvanizes our economy – impacting every single SA citizen.
2. Small businesses form the lifeblood of local communities
Your local coffee shop where you fuel up for the day. The flower seller who’ll always give you a discount “just because”. The pizza place down the road where you’ve celebrated and commiserated. Without them, your neighbourhood would be a homogenous collection of roads and houses. Importantly, small businesses play a vital role in the well-being of communities. Take Railways, for example – the beloved Irene restaurant that became a lifeline to many local residents who’d been rendered destitute by early lockdowns.
TL; DR: By supporting local businesses, you’re investing in the community at large. Feels good, right?
3. Shopping locally is a love letter to the earth
Resisting the siren call of the latest, flashiest version of whatever your retail weakness is, is tough – I get it. (We’re all victims of late-stage capitalism after all). But, and it’s a big one: the effects of climate change cannot be ignored any longer. Advocating for environmentally responsible consumption is the responsibility of every single individual on planet earth – and one impactful way to do this is by supporting local businesses, which have a markedly smaller environmental footprint. Over-packaged, internationally-shipped, plastic everything may be cheaper or more convenient to buy – but the ramifications of rampant, careless consumption are dire. Take fast fashion, for example, an industry that’s one of the biggest polluters on the planet. It may be tempting, but the cumulative environmental impact of billions of consumers buying “just one pair of leggings/ halter-top/ sneakers” is staggeringly detrimental. As legendary environmentalist Jane Goodall put it: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”.
4. You’re supporting a person just like yourself
There’s a meme shared among entrepreneurs: “When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance”. Instead of adding to the already eye-watering bank balances of the gazillionaires who own big brands, your money goes directly to someone just like you – individuals supporting their families amidst skyrocketing costs of living. Your money is a pithy drop in the proverbial ocean for the directors and shareholders of massive corporations – but to small businesses, every single cent makes a tangible difference.
5. Your money facilitates the birth of new ideas and innovation
Small businesses are the birthplace of ideas. They’re born over endless cups of tea around the kitchen table, while shooting the breeze with a customer, or bandying about the “what ifs” and “imagine if”. They’re also born out of necessity; countless small businesses owe their origin story to the fact that their product or services offer a solution to a problem that had yet to be solved. Without your support, these ideas would never come to life. By buying from small businesses, you’re funding the innovators, artists, and creators – as opposed to mainstream brands that are notorious for appropriating the work of independent businesses (and then profiting off of them).
Planning to shop local this Black Friday? We’d love to hear why and who you supported. Let us know over on our socials.