If it wasn’t obvious, Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated shopping at small (and most often local) stores. This is opposed to Black Friday, which is usually to the advantage of the big-box and chain stores that give you ridiculous deals, if onlyyou will stand in line for hours and then trample your fellow-man, when it is time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the “Hunger Games” inspired aspects of it all. Full-contact consumerism, if you will. Anyway, Small Business Saturday is your chance to give some money to people you actually may like, and since you are all set on trading money for goods, you might as well give it to these people. Sure American Express started the idea, but it’s probably one of the less evil things they’ve done.
I’ve put together a list of some places that I plan on going to, or go to on a regular basis. I’ve also given some examples in the form of the actual business (obviously, they’re mostly local to me).
1. Local Comic Book Shop – Of course, how would this not be number one on my list. I go there about once a week, but with the holidays coming up, go see if you can get a bulk deal by buying 10 copies of Batman: Year One (by Frank Miller) to give out. That way you can stop looking down at everyone for not having read it yet.
2. Locally Owned Movie Theater - This is one that you may not be lucky enough to have. I don’t live in a huge metropolitan area, but we still have an independently owned movie theater. Now, that means that they don’t carry movies during their first run. They do however, offer much cheaper prices, and you can add your own butter on your popcorn! It means they might be able to carry some movies that don’t get national releases. Sometimes, the owner/manager will come down before a movie and introduce the film, or have drawings for free stuff. If you have one of these, go buy some gift certificates, maybe the person you give it to will take you with them.
My Local Pick - Collins Road Theatres
3. Local Tabletop Gaming Store - I wasn’t always a cool, well-adjusted, beacon of awesomeness. And I’m still not. When I game, I do most of it in a digital manner, some on the PC, and some on a platform (mostly Xbox 360). There was a time (mostly the 90′s) where the only digital gaming I did, was in the rare form of playing Dungeons & Dragons, or Shadowrun on a local dial-up BBS (if any of those words are foreign to you, just look them up on Wikipedia, they’re from the dark ages of the internet). My preferred method of gaming, was tabletop. Yes, dice: D4′s and D20′s, and everything in between. Also, we used our imagination for a lot of things. I know I sound like a grumpy old man when I say things like that, but still. There were places you would go to buy the new rule books, or the expansion packs, females were a strange and rare commodity, and you would hang out, and probably argue with, the guy who worked behind the counter. And he was kind of a prick, and definitely a know-it-all. And you may or may not have turned in to him.
My Local Pick - BattleZone Games
4. Local Bakery/Chocolatiers - Sure, the packaged baked goods that were made a year ago, and will last for a millennia are cheap and easy. How about trying something that’s like home-made, only you don’t have to do any of the work? If you get tired of bringing bags of Cheetos’ to your weekend LAN parties, bring a batch of fudge instead. Trust me, your fellow gamers will thank you, and the sugar buzz is much more intense!
[Editor's Note - With the current situation at Hostess, shopping locally for your sugar and snack needs keeps you from having to take a side in the unions versus corporations argument]
5. A Local Photography – Here’s an interesting one. Most photographers (unless they work for Sears, or one of those creepy kid’s places in the mall) are most likely a small and local business. Even if you don’t need portraits of you and your brood for the holidays, there are often lots of other things you can use them for. Wedding pictures, business advertisement and marketing solutions, even for your band’s next album cover.
This is just Part 1, Part 2 is here. Feel free to post comments or links about your favorite local and small businesses tomorrow.