Why You Can Feel Good About Shopping Small This Holiday Season
After reading Shopify's "Why (and How to) Support Small Businesses This Holiday Season" this morning, we felt compelled to share it with you. Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, and we are feeling extra grateful for our customers who choose to shop small and keep our doors open. This article is a great reminder as to why shopping small is important, necessary, and better. We've selected relevant excerpts from the Shopify article, and included our own notes in italics below. We hope this topic resonates with you as much as it did with us.
What is a small business, anyway?
Technically, what qualifies a business as "small" varies by country and even by industry. Here in Canada, it is defined as "firms that have fewer than 100 paid employees". But like age, it's nothing but a number. Small business is an attitude.
Who are entrepreneurs? They are doers, calculated risk-takers. They are scrappy, ambitious, and disruptive. They're willing to take financial risks, always choosing growth over profit, and are optimistic to a fault.
Above all, they're not all talk. They do and make things despite uncertainty, because that's what drives them. Their risks lead to innovation that moves the world forward. And we need them.
Au Lit was founded in 1981 by Peggy Byron, who had a passion for quality linens and a desire to change the way people sleep. In a time before "disrupting the industry" was a thing, Peggy did just that: she cut out the middle man and began sewing and creating beautiful quality linens from a small workroom in Montreal, bringing quality European-style sheets direct to customer.
Peggy's vision is the reason that our business exists today. We still sew all of our sheets at the same Montreal factory where it all began, with Peggy's mission in mind. She believed that good sheets shouldn't be expensive or intimidating, and everyone should sleep in comfort and quality.
So why shop small?
Shopping small in many cases provides a better customer service experience over big box and chain counterparts - think more personalized service and unique products. But putting your dollars into independent businesses has benefits beyond your own experience.
Small business survival ensures the livelihood of communities, the creation of meaningful jobs, the support of makers, and the preservation of traditional production methods.
In terms of local brick and mortar businesses, the impact is even more obvious.
When you shop in small community mom and pops or in independent boutiques, your dollars stay in the community, and help local development.
In fact, small businesses return three times as much money per dollar back to the local community than their chain counterparts.
Social good: ethical manufacturing and sourcing
While not true in every case, smaller businesses may have a shorter manufacturer-to-consumer journey, meaning there is more transparency in ingredients, materials, and source of the products you buy. Small businesses are often makers, producing goods locally. Or they are resellers of products made by small-batch brands.
From our sheets to our pillows and duvets, many of our products are made right here in Canada. We oversee the process from start to finish, ensuring that quality remains consistent. Unlike big-box stores, our products aren't a one-size-fits-all equation; we offer custom tailoring and personalization as far as your imagination can take you.
We're also proud to stock products sourced from other small businesses, such as our collection of pillows and throws from the Toronto-based brand Province of Canada.
A better shopping experience
While larger brands have recognized that immersive experiences win in retail, the intimacy and personalized care of small business is hard to scale.
Many small business owners launch stores alone, and fill every role in the business, including customer service. Without the layers of management and corporate policy, small business owners can bend their own rules - and good ones will bend over backwards for every customer, because every single customer matters when you're small.
We own two stores, Au Lit and Au Lit Outlet, both on Yonge St. in Toronto. Because our business is small, our team is full of ambitious multi-taskers. Our marketing team doubles as our customer service reps, our sales associates dabble in visual merchandising, and many of our staff have even moonlighted as models for the site. We function as a tight-knit community, working together every step of the way to bring the best possible customer service experience possible.
Matty and Zoe, two of the Au Lit team members/models
Want to shop small this holiday season? Make sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide for inspiration and perfect present ideas.