By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday… the days immediately following Thanksgiving have, in recent decades, almost all (hey, Sunday is still available!) been given some sort of marketing moniker. Of these, the ones you can feel best about likely are Small Business Saturday, when consumers are encouraged to support local and small enterprises, and Giving Tuesday, which is about supporting non-profits and community groups.
Giving Tuesday may be easier to support in 2020 — this is a year in which we have seen how important first responders and other front-line workers are, how easy it is to lose so much, and the important role community organizations play. On December 1, 2020, the Giving Tuesday website will host a livestream showing stories of generosity from around the world and tales from everyday heroes who will share why giving back is key for building the kind of world we want to live in. And you can always — not just during the holidays, but year-round! — find ways to support your Northern Virginia community by reaching out to organizations such as Volunteer Fairfax.
Small Business Saturday may pose a bit more of a challenge, and yet the need for support here is great as well. The COVID-19 has shuttered many businesses, including some in our area, and the ones that are still running do so with great challenges, from restrictions on capacity to limited resources. Now more than ever it’s important to help our corporate neighbors, many of which are run by families that, like your own, have bills to pay, children to raise, and futures to save for.
So how can you best support Small Business Saturday? This initiative, sponsored by American Express, encourages customers to “shop small,” so it’s a simple as that — doing as much shopping as you can through small, independent businesses instead of large corporate chains. Below are some ways you can do so on Saturday, November 28, 2020.
Return the favor: Think of all the independent restaurants and local stores that have donated goods or services to your children’s schools for events and other fundraisers. Give back to them now by buying gift cards, take-home meal packages, or merchandise such as T-shirts.
Support your neighbors: Go to that strip mall near your house and find a new store or other business, especially one that you may not have patronized before (also check out the AmEx Shop Small map!). Buy good, gift cards, or anything else they sell that could bring them income to help keep the business afloat. As the AmEx site suggests, other ways to show support beyond shopping are to spread the word by telling your friends about a business you love, leaving an online comment or positive review, and following small business pages and liking their posts.
Support your friends: You probably have many friends who work for small companies or who have their own independent businesses. Think of your friends who are hair stylists, manicurists, accountants, massage therapists, writers, musicians, landscapers, and more. Ask them how you can help them or the businesses for which they work.
Think local: Think of the products for which your area is famous, and support that local industry. For example, if you’ll be bringing wine to a holiday gathering or celebration, why not make it a Virginia wine? Virginia is home to more than 300 wineries, and these small businesses would love your support! You can search for wineries near you easily (we have a couple in Fairfax and many more in nearby Loudoun!). There are also many local breweries in Fairfax County and others in nearby areas, as well as distilleries and cideries.
Get crafty: What was once a selling site for arts and crafts is now a huge online marketplace where you can find just about anything for yourself or your home. Still, the sellers on Etsy tend to be small independent business owners who can make and sell just about everything from clothing to housewares and more.
Go fund them: Like others have done in their time of need, some small businesses have set up GoFundMe sites. Ask your friends and family if there are any that you should support. For example, locally, when a restaurant in DC that has done so much for others began to really struggle, they asked for help and the community answered the call. Sakina Grill, which for years has given free meals to those without the means to pay (no questions asked!), started suffering financially this year and set up a GoFundMe fundraiser which has been well-received (we have dined here before and can say the food and service both are great!).
Give them a little bit: There may still be some things you need to buy on major sites such as Amazon. When you do so, you still can help small businesses by going to Amazon not directly but from a site that has linked to it. Using these affiliate links, such as this one for Fairfax Family Fun (a small business itself!) provide a small percentage back to these companies in earned income at no extra cost to you.