It’s the week of Thanksgiving here in the US and that means lots of food, family gatherings and shopping.  Thanksgiving Thursday is followed by Black Friday – the day retailers hope to “be in the black” – as in, making money.  It’s to official kick-off of the holiday shopping season.

small business saturdayThen comes Small Business Saturday… Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local. Small Business Saturday is a registered trademark of American Express corporation.  There are lots of images floating around Facebook… like this one. (I couldn’t find the original creator or source of the image – it isn’t mine, no copyright violation is intended)

While I like the basic concept, there is definitely some black-and-white thinking that I feel compelled to address.

Specifically – “Let’s make sure our money goes to individual people and not multinational companies.”

Well… multinational companies aren’t just nameless, faceless money funnels.  They need a lot of people, resources, etc to survive.  And many, many small businesses are helped when you shop at places like WalMart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s and more…

THIS small business owner, for example.  And many of my friends and clients. Pretty much any artist working in art licensing is a small business that counts on people shopping in large stores so they can earn a living.

I am ONE PERSON, working out of a home office, making a living, paying my bills and taxes and contributing to my community.  I do art that goes on products that are primarily sold in large chain stores… so if you boycott “multinational companies” – this artist is going to be in a world of hurt.

Many of my clients, who are vendors to the big stores, are US based small businesses.  Their livelihoods are also tied to big stores.

I’m not saying don’t go to that craft fair or locally owned hair salon – don’t get me wrong.  But I think the message is getting a little too cut and dry – David vs. Goliath if you will.  Goliath supports a lot of David’s in this new world economy.

I posted this same post on my art blog and posted it on Facebook last weekend. One person commented, “Very good point, Tara…I had not looked at it this way.”  And THAT is the point – we need people to look at things a little differently… see more than the black and white of  “Etsy shopping good, Chain store shopping bad”.  Many of us make a living from both of those distribution channels.

How about we all “mix it up” this holiday season?  Don’t ONLY shop at WalMart but don’t avoid it out of principle either.

Napkins at Walmart - 2014While we are on the subject of WalMart, if you do find yourself in there, look for these cocktail napkins – designed by me.  Manufactured by a company in Philadelphia.  Moved around to all the locations by trucking companies who bought gas, food and probably coffee, all across country.   If your WalMart has canvas wall art for Christmas, you might be supporting my friend Jennifer Pugh – another one-woman artist business out of Utah.  Her family thanks you for your support as well.  Paul Brent has everyday wall art in WalMart – he thanks you.  I’m sure, do many other artists who might read this blog also have a wide variety of products there.  I’m just using WalMart as an example of course – we could talk about any chain store and come up with many of our peers who would benefit.

If you find yourself at HomeGoods or Marshalls, check the coffee mugs.  I have a lot of designs in those stores as well – my logo will be on the hangtag so you can feel good about supporting a small business.

Just some food for thought – BIG doesn’t necessarily mean BAD. If we all share this concept perhaps there will be a little more understanding that simply SHOPPING helps businesses of all sizes.

Have a very happy holiday season – wherever you choose to shop!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  Don’t forget about Cyber Monday either – that’s when you will find the deals for online shopping. 😉