The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, with retailers pulling out all the stops — and deals! — to attract bargain hunters galore. Many shoppers are torn between their desire to save money, and a reluctance to purchase meaningful gifts at the big box stores and websites that have come to dominate holiday bargain hunting.
But the good news is, with not much effort at all, you can take advantage of Black Friday savings and do your holiday shopping in a way that benefits the folks in your community who could use it the most.
Shopping with purpose, both online and in person, begins with identifying where spending your money will do the most good. Perhaps you’d like to support your local Black- or Indigenous-owned business. Maybe your focus is helping women entrepreneurs grow their businesses. And let’s face it — sometimes you just want to spend at a store with roots in your area, rather than buying a similar item from a giant international website, whose business and labor practices may not align with your personal values.
Here are five easy ways to do it:
Find a Chamber of Commerce that represents the kinds of businesses where you want to spend your money. You can find them supporting small businesses all over the country, from US Black Chambers, Inc (a network of more than 145 chambers of commerce and business organizations in 42 states, representing approximately 326,000 Black businesses) to the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce and National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The nice thing about finding businesses through resources like this is that you can visit real-world stores, potentially starting an ongoing relationship.
Launching online businesses has enabled Native people to access markets that reach beyond the confines of reservations or geographical borders and connect with customers throughout the world. Resources like Beyond Buckskin, which focuses on native artisans, keep lists of verified business so consumers can shop with confidence. It’s especially good for finding gifts in the categories of fashion, jewelry, and art.
Books make fantastic gifts for almost anyone on your list. And indie bookstores are not just great places to hang out and explore, they also play a crucial role in supporting new and local authors. But many people don’t have a bookstore in their community, or prefer the convenience of buying books online. The good news is that you can “shop” indie bookshops located anywhere in the country by ordering through Bookshop.org, which supports the local store of your choice — not some anonymous warehouse outside of town.
But, we get it. Online shopping is just so convenient — fast delivery, great prices, and sooo much choice, especially when your local options range from one giant national chain to the next. If that’s you, consider signing up for programs like Amazon Smile, which donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to your preferred charitable organization (including us — just type in Comic Relief US!). Many charities also keep lists of requested items, so you can donate things you know they need, right from your smartphone.
You may have heard about Black Friday-adjacent shopping programs like Small Business Saturday — a great way to support your local shopkeepers. But have you heard of Museum Store Sunday? It’s the same idea, but it supports cultural institutions in your area — and they will happily advise which purchases most benefit smaller local artists and artisans..
Shopping is a necessary part of life — and it can also be fun. By shopping with purpose, you can enjoy yourself, give to others and also know that you’re doing good in your community.