5 Tips for Celebrating National Small Business Week as a Customer

Today marks the beginning of National Small Business Week, a weeklong celebration now in its 50th year. It’s a great opportunity for customers to stop by their local small businesses and express their thanks while doing some shopping. It’s also a great time for small business owners to remind us that they are still here and still doing great work for our communities.

Since it has been 5 decades since the first National Small Business Week was celebrated, I can only imagine how different both the companies and consumers have become. Consumer taste and marketing tactics have certainly changed over the years. To celebrate, we’ll be doing a series of blog posts this week for both small business owners and customers to enjoy.

Today I’m giving you 5 tips for celebrating National Small Business Week. Let me know in the comments if you have any other suggestions for having a great small business week!

1. Be Polite – This is a good rule for general living but as a one-time retail employee and avid people watcher, I can tell you it’s a characteristic that people tend to leave as soon as they come through the store’s door. Remember the owner and those working there are actual people with actual feelings. Take time to appreciate what an assest the business is to your community before you say something rude about prices or having to wait in line to pay. How many people would think to open a speciality cheese store? Not many, so please appreciate that.

2. Tell you friends – Word of mouth is an important thing to a small business owner. The best way of saying thanks for a positive shopping experience is to let others know about it. Check into the business on Facebook or Foursquare, upload pictures, or just tell a friend what a great small boutique you found.

3. Don’t Showroom – Showrooming is the practice of physically checking out an item in a store with the sole purpose of seeing it for yourself before you go home and buy it online. Online stores can offer you lower prices because they don’t have rent, employees, and utilities to pay beyond the bare basics of selling online. But the one thing they can’t offer you is actually holding a product in your hands and testing it out for yourself. So before you showroom, remember that you could be losing out on vital input and interaction with a salesperson. If you shop at a boutique, a sales assistant could let you know that a dress’ cut runs small or offer a more flattering color and accompanying accessories. At an electronics store, you can learn tips and tricks for your newest device before it’s out of the box, saving you hours of frustrated internet searches. For example, when I bought my DSLR I did my research, as I was certain that I’d be getting the latest model Canon had to offer, even though there weren’t many reviews out yet. When I went to purchase my camera, the sales person and I struck up a conversation that concluded in him politely suggesting I get the previous model instead of the new one as the only noticeable difference was the fact that the screen popped out. His suggestion saved me hundreds and I love my camera.

4. Become a regular – Much like the theme song to the popular television show, Cheers, taught us: sometimes the only place you want to go is”where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came”.  Whether it’s the one restaurant you chose for a Friday date night or the comic book store you visit once a month to pick up the latest releases, try to become a regular. There is an indescribably nice feeling about walking into a store and having the sales associate recognize you and call you by name. Being a regular can have some perks as well: sales people can save you a bottle of your favorite wine for your weekly visit when supplies start running low, and can give you the inside scoop on upcoming sales.

5. Seriously, tell you friends – Love that tiny Italian bakery with the best tiramisu you’ve ever had? Tell all of your friends, take them if you have to; sing its praises on every social media outlet you have. Small businesses offer communities a variety of choice and exposure to things we may miss in big box stores and retail chains.

Now a question, what’s your favorite small business? Mine happens to be our local comic book shop and the resident camera store. Have you ever become a regular at any small business?

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