What I learnt from supporting 15 small businesses in 2020.

For Christmas 2020 I set myself a challenge. I like to call it ‘Operation Big Up Small Businesses’. But ‘The Non-Amazon Gift-Giving Challenge’ and ‘A Very Etsy Christmas’ were close runners-up.

Side note – have I unintentionally given Etsy their next Christmas Campaign tagline?

Anyway. Back to the challenge.

The goal: to buy as many (if not all) my gifts from small and/or local businesses.

The reason: in a year where we have seen too many small businesses go under, I wanted to do my bit and support those still fighting.

Traditionally, my Christmas cash has gone into the pockets of the big brands. They make it seem so easy. Quick search online, chuck it into the cart, throw in a cheeky discount code and away we go.

This year my gift searching process took a fair bit longer. That’s because I didn’t go through the one-stop shop that is Amazon.

Instead, I bought my presents from:

  • 7 Etsy sellers.
  • 3 eBay sellers.
  • 2 local gift shop owners.
  • 1 local pop-up shop supporting local artisans.
  • 1 local candle maker.
  • 1 family member who makes beautiful Scrabble art.

Being completely transparent here – I ended up buying a few items from Nintendo, Boots and Tesco. Nobody’s perfect…at least I’m not.

But you know what I learnt from this challenge? (Aside from the fact you can find some amazing and unique presents when you shop small.)

I learnt that big doesn’t always mean best. In fact, when it came to customer service, the little businesses outshone the big brands. By miles.

Let me give you one example (it’s not the only example I have).

Back in October, I tried buying a pair of Nike trainers. Plenty of time ahead of the Christmas rush, you say. WRONG.

The day the trainers were due to arrive, I got an email saying my order had been cancelled ‘as per my request’. Uh…nope! I definitely still wanted the trainers.

Several calls and countless emails later, I was still none the wiser as to why they had cancelled my order.

Nike messed up big time and have likely lost my business for good. But I have a hunch they don’t really care.

Fast forward to mid-December and I ordered a gift from an Etsy seller. Unfortunately, the item arrived damaged (thanks to the courier). Yet, ONE quick email was all it took for the issue to be fixed.

The business owner was polite, quick to respond and sent out a fresh item no questions asked. He made me feel like I was his one and only customer. He cared, 100%.

The shopping experience was one of the nicest I’ve ever had. Safe to say I’ll be recommending this small business to family and friends.

I’m not a fan of making New Year’s resolutions. But I think I can make an exception for 2021. And it will be to continue ‘Operation Big Up Small Businesses’.

NB I originally wrote this post for my LinkedIn page on 6th Jan 2021.