Written by Gifted Local Founder, Helen Robinson
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching I have really struggled with whether or not to jump on the band wagon. As a brand new business it’s an intimidating time of year, thinking you need to keep up with other retailers and feeling you have to offer huge discounts for a day or week to ‘stay in the game’.
On a personal level I have very mixed feelings about it all. On one hand I have no issue with buying a much needed discounted item - maybe your oven is on the blink or you need a new pair of shoes and have been waiting patiently for a discount. However, according to this Guardian article, Which? has found that just one in twenty discounts are genuine so please do be careful if you are planning on buying something today, and please use tools like Honey which can alert you to price drops and automatically searches for and enters promo codes for you at checkout.
I also worry when people get caught up in the excitement and buy excessively (we've all seen the videos of shoppers fighting over discounted blenders) and what this overconsumption means for the environment.
So I decided to do some research to understand the whole phenomenon a bit more, and through that I discovered lots of alternatives:
Just a card’s Indie Week, the Make Friday Green Again collection, #shopethicalinstead and Small Business Saturday. I found the ethos and values of these campaigns aligned with what I’m trying to achieve: celebrating and championing small businesses, encouraging consumers to shop locally, and to support their communities.
- Just a Card’s Indie week is this week (25 - 29th November) and the name stems from the observation that every time you go into a small business if you bought ‘just a card’ it would have a massive impact.
- Make Friday Green Again originated in France and now 300+ brands support it by encouraging people to not buy something new on Black Friday but rather look at their wardrobes and work out which items can be repaired, sold or recycled. Their concern is that Black Friday is not sustainable or environmentally friendly.
- #shopethicalinstead has been set up by #ethicalhour and encourages people to use small sustainable businesses over the big retailers.
- Small Business Saturday 2019 is on the 7th December this year and they encourage everyone to get involved by going to your local high street, visiting your local stores or, if you can’t get out (the very reason I created Gifted Local!), then go online and support the small businesses in your area. Although the campaign centres around one day, SBS aims to have an ongoing impact by increasing awareness of small businesses throughout the year.
As a small business it’s hard to get exposure compared to the huge corporations we’re in competition with. Their media and marketing budgets span into the millions while we’re trying to create and post interesting content on social media, hoping we’ll reach some organic eyeballs. They can put together TV ads, pay influencers, pay for digital media and have the staff to deal with everything from legal, creative, customer services and sales. As a small business there is often only one person doing all of this (the founder) and, as with many of my sellers, they’re juggling all this with small children at home or with the 3pm school pick up looming! Indeed, I’m writing this post during my baby’s nap.
This article is not looking for sympathy. It’s just important to me to highlight some of the obstacles small businesses navigate and to show how much impact buying from a small business can have, and for the buyer too.
Every sale at Gifted Local is celebrated as we know we’re supporting businesses in the community - and we are a small business ourselves so it’s a double celebration. Buying from a small business means 58% more money stays in the local economy than when you buy from a national or international corporation*.
So, if you hadn’t guessed already, Gifted Local is not jumping on the Black Friday band wagon. We stand with the other small businesses and campaigns that challenge the idea of over consumption and want to promote a more ethical way to shop. Indeed, for every sale made over the Black Friday weekend, we will donate 10% to charity. We've chosen a North London based charity called The Felix Project which provides a free door-to-door service to collect surplus food from suppliers, and deliver it to charities who distribute it to those who need it the most. We discovered The Felix Project through a local campaigner The Ethical Edit and we couldn't think of a more appropriate charity to help throughout this week.
Gifted Local supports:
* Source: Civic Economics – Andersonville Study of Retail Economics