Here are the best ways to support small businesses this season, and how to find small shops you'll love.

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The Saturday after Thanksgiving is known as Small Business Saturday, and it's a day to celebrate and support small businesses in your community and around the world. It's also a great opportunity to pick up unique and meaningful Christmas gifts. Whether you're in need of a hostess gift or just a few stocking stuffers, your friends and family will appreciate a gift from a local shop or small business way more than a mass-produced trinket.

If you're not sure where to start, there's a new resource that'll help you find your new favorite small business. Shop 1 in 5 is a platform started by Minna Khounlo-Sithep and Jacqueline Snyder, co-hosts of The Product Boss Podcast, and their mission is to support as many small shops as possible. The idea is simple: You can take the pledge to buy one of every five purchases from a small business rather than a big-name store, and then use the interactive directory on their site to find exactly what you're looking for. 

woman looking at clothes in a store
Credit: Image courtesy of Getty

Why Shop Small?

The women started Shop 1 in 5 last fall, after noticing small shops were struggling big time due to the pandemic. In a span of just three months, more than 3 million small businesses shut down because people just weren't shopping small. "Small businesses really struggled in 2020 and 2021, and supporting them right now is crucial," says Khounlo-Sithep. "It helps to fuel job creation, innovation, local communities, and the national economy in a much more impactful way than putting your dollars toward big box stores."

Khounlo-Sithep explains it's not just about the economy, but supporting the actual people behind the products. "When you're buying from a small business, you're buying from a real person," she says. "Your gift has a story attached to it. It actually supports a small business that created that product, whose family was impacted by your purchase and it really makes gift-giving more special for the giver and the recipient."

How to Shop Small Business Saturday

Now, Shop 1 in 5 has hundreds of shops and products listed on their directory, and you can even choose from curated gift guides depending on the category you're looking for. Choose from categories like Black-owned businesses and women-owned shops, or choose a type of product—like sustainable goods, eco-friendly products, and handmade gifts are all available.

Small Business Saturday does fall the day after Black Friday, but Khounlo-Sithep explains you can still take advantage of great Black Friday deals on large items or appliances you really need without feeling guilty. "That's what our Shop 1 in 5 Pledge is all about," she says. "It's the commitment to make one in five of your purchases from a small business, online or offline." 

At the end of the day, the goal is to make shopping from small businesses a lifestyle, not a once-a-year occurrence.  "Don't wait until Small Business Saturday to make a purchase with small businesses," Khounlo-Sithep says. "We're seeing so many people incorporate this into their daily purchases and purchasing decisions, not just gift-gifting and holiday, but in their lifestyle."

Small Businesses to Support This Year

There are millions of small businesses out there, and as long as you're buying something you love, there's no right or wrong way to support them. If you're in need of gift ideas or are looking to find your new favorite little business, here are a few of Khounlo-Sithep's favorite picks.

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