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Opinion: Bezos doesn’t need your money, local businesses do

The Fourth Wave is a feminist series written by Online and Social Media Manager Gwenna Salazar. (Gwenna Salazar)

Shop Small Saturday is a tradition to encourage supporting local businesses in the holiday season. The retail holiday immediately follows Black Friday and includes sales from local shops. If you haven’t participated in the past, this is the year to start. 

Local businesses are hurting this year. The pandemic significantly impacted their profits, forcing many to close despite their successful pasts. As bad things tend to do, this is disproportionately impacting women, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

You can do something about that. 

The people who were rich at the beginning of the pandemic are significantly richer now. An article from Guardian titled “Billionaires’ wealth rises to $10.2 trillion amid Covid crisis” explains while many were losing their jobs, the richest were investing in the stock market. Now there are more billionaires than before and they have accumulated more wealth, which is “economically and socially destructive.” 

You can do something about that.

Reasons to shop local: Boosting community and smaller carbon footprint

I grew up in rural, Mormon Utah. While other parents were teaching their kids not to drink coffee, my mom was impressing my sister and I with the importance of getting our coffee — and anything else we could — from local businesses. 

One of the jobs she worked when I was growing up was at a Small Business Development Center, trying to help people start local businesses and keep them open. The experience taught us that when people open a business, they are often risking everything and hoping their community will support them. Shop local to support them.

Imagine this month that thousands of people buy holiday gifts from Amazon. Think of the packaging, of the shipping. Think of the environment. In the past several years, shipping speeds from big companies like Walmart and Amazon have continued to increase. Same-day and next-day delivery means higher environmental cost, according to CNN

All those planes and trucks mean carbon emissions. Shop local to support the planet. 

Supporting local business also creates local jobs and keeps more of your money in your area. This contributes to funding public schools, water treatment, and transportation, according to The Calloway Bank. Shop local to invest in your community. 

Local women-owned businesses & the Leadership Gap

Some local businesses have used social media campaigns to promote themselves and other small shops. 

“This year has been hard for all of us,” says a post on Sugar House Coffee’s Instagram. “Us small businesses have had to be creative and we are still slow. In order to survive we need ALL OF YOU to support local this winter.” 

King’s English Bookshop is a well-known local business, but according to their social media they struggled this year as well. 

“This year more than ever, we are so thankful to be in business,” the shop posted on Thursday. 

Don’t forget, women are vastly under-represented in leadership roles of big corporations, a phenomenon known as the “Leadership Gap.” AND women-owned businesses are especially struggling this year, as the pandemic is forcing many to take on caregiver responsibilities on top of their careers.

Shop local to support women.

Not responsibility, opportunity

To be clear, I am not suggesting that it is our personal responsibility to prevent the rich from getting richer. The wealth gap is a crisis in this country,  and the pandemic has only made things harder, according to ABC News

What I am saying is that, this year especially, we need to help each other. There are local businesses that will not make it to next year if we do not show up for them. There are people in our community that need jobs. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and the Walton family could spend billions of dollars a day and not run out of money by the time they die. 

It isn’t our responsibility to not fund that, but doesn’t it sound nice? 

My mom believing in supporting local businesses didn’t prevent us from getting things at Walmart. I understand that sometimes we have to prioritize price. Don’t let the inability to get everything locally stop you from getting anything locally

This holiday season, give local women your money

Maybe getting your groceries from a local business isn’t an option this year, but start smaller. 

Set a goal to get your loved ones a gift from a local shop. The Lillie Bee Emporium and Home Again are examples of women-owned local businesses that would be perfect for holiday shopping.

Check Central Book Exchange and King’s English (both owned by women) before you go to Barnes & Noble. 

Instead of getting your seasonal drinks from Starbucks, Google “coffee near me” and try something new. Sugar House Coffee is a local favorite and, you guessed it, woman-owned. 

2020 is almost over. Let’s help each other so we can get through it together.

By the way, this is the second article in my feminist series: The Fourth Wave. Check out my last piece, “Good horror is feminist because being marginalized is scary.”

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Gwenna Salazar is an honors communication student in her final year at Westminster. She is excited to spend another semester as the online and social media manager working alongside a great team. When she isn’t on campus, Gwenna loves critically consuming media, being outside, and snuggling her cat, Bruja. After graduation she hopes to forge a fulfilling career in public relations, leaving time on the side for adventures.

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