Seven Reasons to Support Small Businesses

“Most independent businesses are run by people, not stockholders or algorithms,” says Of a Kind co-founders, Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur, “And so you get a different kind of care and quality in their product because their work is a reflection of themselves.”

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This Saturday, November 25th, is Small Business Saturday. We’ll be open from 9AM to 4PM and offering discounts, prizes, and treats all day long. Small Business Saturday is a perfect excuse to grab a few friends and get out of the house (and take care of the folks on your Christmas list!) after a day of traveling, eating your weight in pies, and leisurely sprawling out on the couch in a turkey-induced nap. But for small business retailers, this special day is crucial and can even make or break a business. Here’s why your support matters to us:

SUPPORT MAKERS & ARTISTS: Our shelves and displays are brimming with items made by artisans and craftsmen across the country. From a woman creating greeting cards on an antique press with hand-carved blocks in Indiana to a duo making bean-to-bar chocolate in Northwest Arkansas to a wife and husband pair designing hand-crafted painted and patterned greeting cards in Iowa, this hardly even scratches the surface of our offerings. When you purchase something from Merriment, you’re telling the designers and makers, “I see all the work you have put into creating this and I value your time and talents.” The goods in our store aren’t made in factories; there are real people using their hands - the hands they used to zip their son’s jacket before he went to school or to drop extra change in the tip jar at the coffee shop one early morning - to create something beautiful and useful just for you.

PRODUCT DIVERSITY: We receive new product almost weekly, and the folks who drop in a few times a month are quick to notice that there are typically a few new designs on our popular card wall since their last visit. Because we have the luxury of ordering from dozens and dozens of designers, we have the opportunity, too, to offer a large array of goods with unique looks and price points. Additionally, some of the items we carry are because a customer asked us, “Do you have XYZ?” One of the brands on our ink bar, for example, is offered because several customers requested it. We are proud to seek the best products for our customers and get the biggest thrill when we hear, “This is exactly what I am looking for!”

PERSONALIZED SERVICE: Customer service is our first priority and what we strive to be known for. And for us, that goes beyond just remembering your name and thanking you for your purchase. We want to learn about your hobbies and skills so we can help you pick out a product that suits your needs. If you sketch, you’ll want the soft Blackwing pencil instead of the firm Blackwing pencil. If you want to get started in bullet journaling, you’ll need the dot page notebooks rather than the line or graph page notebooks. We deeply care about the products we carry and enjoy studying the features and characteristics of every item we offer. (Indulge us if we begin sharing how and where a product is made!) We love to learn about our customer-turned-friends, too, whether you’re going for a  big promotion, grappling with your niece’s illness, or planning a holiday trip to Hawaii. We’re here to cheer you on while you celebrate and rally around you during a struggle.

KEEP YOUR HARD-EARNED DOLLARS IN YOUR HOMETOWN: When you make a purchase at Merriment or any locally-owned retailer, a majority of those dollars go right back into your own community. If you spend $100, for example, $68 of your purchase stays in the local economy, where $100 spent at a big-box store only keeps $43 in the local economy. Sales tax are allocated for things like improvements and expansions on public schools and roads. You get to go home with a new notebook and candle, and our children receive better curriculum and educational resources. Plus, most small business owners turn around and spend their dollars at other locally-owned shops. A few of our favorites are Antoinette Baking Co., Ever Something, Glacier, Jenkins & Co., Magic City Books, and Retro Den. (In fact, we were visiting Magic City Books this morning and spotted two other small business owners perusing the shelves.)

COMMUNITY INVESTMENT: We opened Merriment in Tulsa because it’s home. We believed there was a need to be met, and there was nowhere else we’d rather put down roots than in this little south-Midwestern city. Small businesses owners are consistently striving to help make their districts and neighborhoods better with events, product offerings, donations, or volunteerism. Research shows small businesses contribute 250% more to non-profits and community causes than large corporations. This year, we made several product donations to area fundraisers and galas, and we’re excited to be partnering with a few non-profits next year to share a portion of our proceeds. Tulsa continues to receive accolades for its livability and community spirit, and we’re honored to do what we can to make Tulsa shine even brighter.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: According to the Small Business Association, there are almost 30 million small businesses (!) across the country, and these ventures employ more than 8 million people. While we don’t have any employees yet (we’ll be posting new positions next spring!), we’ve hired several contractors to open our store and continue to hire area designers to assist us with large custom orders. Since moving into our space, we’ve worked with an outdoor sign company, furniture shops, wallpaper hangers, florists, caterers, advertisers, graphic designers, and greeting card makers - all folks who call Tulsa home. Between 1993 and 2011, small businesses were responsible for creating 64% of new jobs in the United States. Now that’s an impact!

ACKNOWLEDGING THE RISK & AFFIRMING THE DREAM: “Choosing to support an independent business is an act of respect,” says Matt Kliegman, co-founder of The Smiles, “It’s acknowledging the tremendous risk and challenges inherent to starting your own thing.” To start a company, many small business owners have cashed in their savings or committed to a large loan and have sacrificed everything from annual vacations to time spent with family. Sure, we’re the ones who had to miss our nephew’s soccer game on a busy Saturday or who consented to using our homes as collateral for funding (!), but we did and we do it because we genuinely believe our concepts, whatever they are, will buoy our community, build lifelong relationships, and economically bolster the cities we live in. We take great pride in the companies we have built, and we hope all our hard work, sweat, and tears are evident in the four walls where we house our dreams.

In this season of joy and gratitude, we want to share our sincere thanks to each of you have shopped with us over the past thirteen months. We know you have a choice where you spend your hard-earned dollars, and we are over the moon you choose Merriment. We’re so excited for all that’s to come and we’re honored to be your neighborhood card shop!

Photo by Scott Webb for Unsplash. | Some research via Grasshopper.