GRAPHIC DESIGN Audrey Chen
Every year. the rush and excitement of the holidays sets in; suddenly we find ourselves amidst department stores scrambling for the most expensive, name-brand gifts in order to impress our loved ones. Although there remains on-going hype around checking off name-brand wishlists, smaller-scale shopping may be something to consider.
With all the economy has been through in the past year, shopping small is both a meaningful and timely alternative to mainstream holiday shopping this year. Through ever-changing regulations and closures, many businesses have experienced financial struggles; in light of this, 2020 has been a year full of obstacles, many that have yet to be overcome.
Processing this information has led me to consider any way I could support others struggling through the pandemic. The most direct and personal option I could think of was through supporting the small businesses I’ve known and loved for years.
The first time I bought from a small business was through Etsy, an e-commerce website featuring many small businesses selling handmade and vintage items. I recall feelings of awe after my first Etsy purchase. My item arrived wrapped in decorative tissue paper, a ribbon bow and a cute hand-written note. The shop owner thanked me personally for supporting their small business. This was the very first time a store had ever thanked me for purchasing something addressed me by name, and packaged a product with the most detail and thought. What started out as mindless online shopping soon registered far beyond that; I was supporting someone’s dream, and in many cases, their livelihood.
I could not think of a more crucial time to shop small than during a pandemic holiday season. Every purchase made towards a small business supports the lives and ambitions of those behind them. Not to mention, shopping small often consists of unique, personable items, while brand-name items remain heavily advertised and familiar. No one ever asks where I bought my AirForce Ones, but I’ve gotten countless questions about the personalized mask I purchased through Etsy.
With this in mind, I’ve made a conscious decision to do my Christmas shopping on Etsy or directly from small businesses and websites. My guide to shopping small this holiday season revolves around a few platforms and individual circumstances. For me, Etsy has been a huge part of my small-shopping in connecting me to countless creative independent businesses. Among the list of ecommerce platforms, I’ve also used Depop to buy re-worked clothing, used items, and vintage clothes. This is another great platform to support a small virtual shop from anywhere around the globe.
Those looking for more ways to holiday shop small should also consider independent restaurants. While indoor dining may be limited at the moment, think about purchasing a gift card to any of the restaurants you and others love – gift cards are always an ideal stocking stuffer!
Small shops vary greatly in price; there are countless items at affordable prices to explore. Choose from an array of shops on Etsy or Depop that work with your budget, rather than gimmick sales many name-brands use to continue charging an arm and a leg.
Kindness and support can be shown in more ways than we think. Shopping from small businesses not only helps check off your wishlist, but the wishlists of the small business owners behind them. Anyone shopping this pandemic-holiday season has the ability to support dreams, homes and families. We may not always recognize the impact our choices have, but it can be as simple as clicking “add to cart.”