The Hidden Cost Behind Convenience: Why Supporting Small Businesses Matters
This season, use your dollars to support small businesses who hold up the economy and give back to their communities instead of mega corporations.
Estimated Read Time: 7 minutes
When you think about small businesses maybe you think of a quaint little main street right out of a movie.
Photo by Tyler Rutherford on Unsplash
But small businesses are everywhere, not just on main street! That’s one of the reasons you should prioritize small businesses — they’re all around you! From your hairdresser, to your landlord, your next airbnb host, or your favorite coffee spot.
So this season (or any time of the year), as you’re preparing to start your holiday shopping, think about the advantages of shopping from small businesses and what your support means to them.
The Cost of Convenience
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- Ride shares
- Food delivery
- Grocery deliver
- Two day shipping
It's safe to say we’re living in the most convenient time period ever. But there’s often a hidden cost lurking behind these conveniences.
Photo by Shopify Partners on Burst
When you can get a t-shirt or a belt or a pair of socks the very next day, or even the same day, for no shipping fee, it’s easy to keep making small purchases throughout the day or week. These small purchases add up financially as well as contribute to many of us owning far too many things.
Convenience encourages us to buy a single-use product because it’s cheap or easy and because we’ll need to return to buy more of it. Excess waste can also be found in packaging, shipping, transportation, energy, and fuel.
- Packaging waste happens in the form of unnecessary wrapping and stuffing — often plastic.
- Shipping waste occurs when products are packaged in incorrectly sized boxes. While it may seem silly and mildly inconvenient for you, it’s a waste of cardboard and it doesn’t allow trucks to be packed as efficiently.
- Transportation waste happens when a truck is filled with large boxes that contain small products. The truck cannot pack as efficiently wasting value space, fuel, and carbon emissions.
- Fuel and energy waste occur when trucks are inefficiently packed or not completely filled. The more a truck is carrying, the more efficient the mileage, carbon emissions, and even prices end up being. But fast turnaround times don't give freight carriers the opportunity for efficiency.
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
Amazon, a trillion dollar company, and other large companies can afford to build warehouses and take on extra shipping costs to get products to you faster and cheaper.
Small businesses can't afford to do the same.
While you, the buyer, may not feel those fees, small companies attempting to widen their reach by selling on these platforms will feel it through seller fees.
These seller fees average around 15% but range from 6-45%. That number may seem small but they’re large enough to hurt small businesses, even resulting in businesses losing money selling products on Amazon. Yet in 2021 Amazon made $121 billion in these fees.
Not all inexpensive products are poorly designed, and not all expensive ones are well designed, but generally speaking the cheaper a product, the lower the quality.
This is because in large scale production, satisfying the consumer is not the end goal.
To get costs down, the quality of the materials suffer as do wages, working conditions, quality assurance, and more.
In many cases companies intentionally design products to wear out quickly so you’ll be forced to purchase it again (Planned Obsolescence). Hint: Think of your phone slowing down with an update.
Why Support Small Businesses?
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Small businesses need YOU!
If for no other reason, support a small business because it’s a nice thing to do.
In the U.S. alone there are 61 million small businesses with under 100 employees. 23 million of those have less than 20 employees. All together they’re responsible for employing a third of the entire country’s workforce.
Do you have any small business owners in your family or close circle of friends? Can you imagine how excited they would be by a handful, a hundred, or a few hundred new loyal customers? When you support small businesses, that’s what you’re doing all over the country!
Here Are 4 More Advantages Of Shopping From Small Businesses
We’re Your Neighbors
Photo by Brandy Kennedy on Unsplash
You might know a pizza spot, a construction company, or a boutique that are run by locals but chances are there are a lot more local and small businesses you don’t know about!
- It's your hairdresser
- The coffee shop
- The antique store
- The gas station
- Your favorite taco joint
- It's your neighbor who freelances
- Or a local artist who sells their goods online or through Etsy
More Environmentally Minded
While it’s true that not every small business is environmentally-minded, it’s also true that most source locally first.
Every partner at ZWS makes a product designed for people and the planet.
- All products and brands are vetted by us before they become a partner.
- We ensure first and foremost shipping is 100% plastic-free.
- We look out for organizations that give back — at the community level and nationally.
But we know sustainability looks different to different people. For this we have a variety of partners and encourage you to shop by value or brand.
Some of our most notable donors are:
- Blue Heron Botanicals who run completely off the grid and donate heavily towards saving the sea turtles.
- GotBag sources the plastic used in their products from ocean cleanup projects while working to prevent more plastic from ending up in the ocean.
- Yay for Earth sources their beeswax from a local beekeeper!
- And us! ZWS is a 1% For The Planet member in addition to donating to other causes close to us.
Supported Small Businesses Support The Community
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst
When you support and enable a small business you’re helping to develop community and talent.
You never know how your support will impact someone, or how helping a small brand remain in business can impact the community.
When you shop with small businesses, every dollar you spend matters.
- You’re helping them to survive
- To remain a pillar of the community
- To spread their message
- To be seen by a wider audience
And when these brands need help to keep up with all your wonderful orders, they hire locals.
- This helps the local economy by creating jobs
- It helps develop talent (and inspires future entrepreneurs)
- It helps to create a diverse workforce as that business is more likely to hire people who represent the local demographics of their community
- And it helps the community through service projects and donations to local causes
These are some of the reasons our founders knew they wanted to create a platform to support other small, sustainable businesses.
Better Customer Service
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
You’ve probably had an experience with a huge corporation that was cold, impersonal, and rude. We don’t want to do business like that.
Every product we sell, every partnership we make, every piece of content we release, we do so for you — our audience, our supporters, our community. And every single one of our partners feels the same.
So the next time you get a handwritten note or a thank you card in our package, know it was genuine because we (and all our partners) <3 you!
You’re making choices that benefit you, your family, and the environment. We get it and we would be kidding ourselves if we acted as if we were your only choice.
We appreciate you supporting our small business which allows us to continue supporting other small businesses. We hope after reading this article, it helps to get you thinking about the advantages of shopping from small businesses and why supporting small business matters.
Written by Lauren Plug, content creator for ZeroWasteStore & Sustainability Enthusiast!