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Shopping ‘Small’ Matters

flg store
Small businesses like The Flag Store in Crystal Lake offer unique holiday gifts. Photo: J Nanez

Shopping McHenry County’s small merchants is a win for all.

With the holidays approaching, stores are vying for your attention more than ever.

If you’re weary of the holiday hoopla and want to shop with purpose this year, there’s a simple solution: Shop small. Pay a visit to McHenry County’s local independent retailers and specialty stores.

“Check out that cute little shop you have always driven by, grab coffee at that locally owned coffee shop,” said Mary Margaret Maule, president, Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Big Returns by Shopping Small

The benefits of shopping small are numerous – a healthy local economy is among the highlights.

“When you shop local, your money stays local,” explained Tom Henning, executive director, Richmond/Spring Grove Chamber of Commerce.

“Sales tax dollars from these local stores stay in the community, supporting police, street clean up, and parks and recreation,” added Added Kay Rial Bates, president, McHenry Area Chamber.

“68 cents of every dollar spent in a local independently owned store stays in your community,” Maule said.

And small businesses equal jobs. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, there are between 25 million and 27 million small businesses in the U.S. that account for 60 to 80 percent of all U.S. jobs. Simply, small businesses create jobs – and our dollars spent there keep local jobs thriving.

A Connected Community

Shopping local also strengthens community.

“[Local merchants] live, work and play here – just like you,” Maule added. “Their kids go to your schools, they commit to the nonprofits that serve your community. They are your neighbors.”

Local business owners have a vested interest in the future of their community, explained Danielle Gulli, executive director, Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Industry, “from supplying jobs to contributing to the uniqueness of the community.”

A Unique Experience

Shopping small also provides a high-quality experience for consumers from outstanding customer service to an expert staff to a variety of unique items to choose from.

“Local shop owners know their products and can give you informed recommendations,” Maule said. “Local business owners do what they do because they are passionate about their products and take time to know their customers.”

And consumers are treated like real people, not numbers, at our small businesses. “We know you by name – or at least by face – and always have a smile and kind word for you,” said Mary Batson, owner, Out of the Box in Downtown Crystal Lake. “We love to hear about your daughter’s wedding or see pictures of your new grandson because our customers are like family or old friends that we are always happy to see.”

Batson, who opened Out of the Box in 2008, shares her passion with customers every day. “When you shop at a small store, there is always a knowledgeable employee ready and willing to help you,” she said. “Small businesses provide extras like free gift wrapping, special orders, wish lists and lots of personalized shopping help.”

Find wonderful gifts, handpicked by knowledgable local merchants, in MCL’s annual Holiday Gift Guide.

Small Business Saturday

With campaigns like Small Business Saturday, a program American Express launched in 2010, consumers are rediscovering Main Street (or visiting for the first time) and are making it a point to support locally owned and operated shops.

Small Business Saturday is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving – mark you calendar for November 26.

Many McHenry County retailers and small business districts, such as Downtown Crystal Lake, Richmond/Spring Grove and Marengo Main Street, are officially participating in Small Business Saturday/Shop Small celebrations.

And for the third year in a row, Flatlander Market of Marengo will be included in the national Small Business Saturday ad campaign.

Tell us your “shopping small” story by posting your experiences and photos to Facebook and Instagram with the tags #ShopSmall #SmallBizSat and #ShopMcHenryCounty.

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