I’m very onboard the Shop Small & Local Movement. Perhaps that is because I grew up the daughter of business owners, that I’m currently a small business owner, or that I personally know a lot of the small business owners in town. However, if you are not in one of those three camps – you may wonder what is in it for you beyond being trendy? I’ve compiled several, hopefully, persuading arguments for stepping away from your Amazon shopping cart and heading to one of your small, local businesses.
- Investing in your community. When we first started in Jan., my husband quickly realized that we get almost a request weekly for donations or sponsorship. While we cannot support every community event or organization, we try! This year, we’ve sponsored a youth basketball team, donated raffle items to the Barnette PTA, we are always behind the library reading program, we’ve given to the Ronald McDonald House, Lighthouse Christian School, Alaska Firefighters (husband was a firefighter in his previous life), Pioneer Home, Boys and Girls Club, 4-H, Tanana Valley Fair, Run for the Refuge, and Santa’s Helpers. That is what I can think of off the top of my head!?!?! You support us and we invest it back into our community.
- Support your neighbors. If you shop local year around, you’ll get to know us along with the other small business owners. I bet you’ve never met the owners of Freddies or Wal Mart. You too can get to know your local business owners by shopping small and local. We are a hard-working, community loving group of people.
- Local owners buy local services themselves. We buy our gas, our groceries, our heating fuel, repair our vehicles, go to the dentist, etc. in Fairbanks. Money spent locally most often stays local (unless I get to go on a vacation! woot!).
- Greater Access to Product Diversity! We have access to a lot of vendors that the box stores do not. A lot of the products we carry are not available on Amazon or in big box stores (part of the purchasing agreement). Granted, it goes both ways with some stuff not available to us little guys. Of course some overlap. But really, we got a lot of diversity and things you may not know that you need! Invisible ink? Sticky poo? A unicorn slap bracelet? Two Brothers bow?
- Supporting Fairbanksan Unique Identity and Character! I know people talk about how’d they’d love a Target in Fairbanks but you can find Target everywhere (well, except currently Fairbanks). Boring. Imagine living in a place with nothing but box stores and strip malls. Bleck. The Toy Quest is only in Fairbanks. Right by the Farmer’s Market that is loaded with local goodies. Across from the Woodway that sells amazing woodstoves (I know I have one in my house, see #3). Long day at the toy store, calls for some Little Owl coffee from next door. Newest love has been Just the Tips Cafe up the road. Those are places you won’t see anywhere else but here. Longtime love, If Only a fine store downtown. Fairbanks is Fairbanks because of its people and amazing small businesses.
- I borrowed this directly from a “10 reasons to shop locally”: You’ll get amazing toys. Walk into a toy superstore, and you’ll find aisles of pink and blue plastic that’ll end up at Goodwill by spring. Instead, at an independent toy store, you’ll find toys that will spark kids’ imaginations, help them learn and be a lot of fun. Locate one at the American Specialty Retail Store Association website: http://www.astratoy.org/find-a-store.asp. YES!!! We have carefully curated the toys we are bringing to you versus a blanket order for our 500 stores.
- You Matter More. This was also swiped from another site. “We talk a lot about exerting influence with your purchasing choices, or “voting with your wallet.” It’s a fact that businesses respond to their customers but your values and desires are much more influential to your local community business than the large big box stores.” Another yes! Wal Mart, Freddies, and McDonald’s won’t notice if you stop shopping with them. Every person that walks in our door matters. No matter if you don’t spend a dime because we hope you will tell your friends and perhaps they’ll spend a dime. We are striving daily to improve your experience and our customer service because we want you to have a good time when you are with us.
- Access to Experts or Bring in Yours. Earlier this year, Shane came home with two new games that we got for the toy store. As he plopped them on the counter, he announced, “It is my job to know how to play these.” Okay, we loved a good game before we bought a toy store but we take it even more seriously now (the toy business is serious business). We know toys. Even better, you can bring in your toy expert to see what gets them excited. It is much more fun than showing them pictures online. Children and toy stores are magical.
- It is really fun! Yes, you may come in as a screaming child is being carried out of the store but that is because they were having FUN at the store on the play tables. You’ll see adults get excited about toys that had as kids OR wish they had as kids. You’ll hear pop-guns going off, see remote control cars zipping around, or someone rocking out on a roll-up drum.
- It’s good for your health! Should I talk about the dangers of sitting and spending too much time on a screen? Or focus on the benefits of walking around and socializing with real humans?
- It feels good. You are helping out local people who need your patronage. You are supporting your community. This made me chuckle and may be too much of a stretch but “Small-business owners are the embodiment of the American Dream; supporting them makes you part of the dream, and that’s a good thing.”
- More services! We have to offer something that online and box stores cannot offer. We try our hardest to be competitive when it comes to price and inventory but that isn’t enough sometimes. Some of our extra services, we offer free gift wrapping, free layaway, accepts home-school purchase orders, has a frequent buyer card, and coming this spring – Birthday Registry!
Okay, I’m running out of steam so we are stopping at 12 very convincing reasons why you should shop local and small year round! Have I convinced you yet that quirky, local businesses like ours are worth your time? I hope I have and I hope to see you out and about at one of our amazing Fairbanksan businesses!!