In 2022, one of my new year’s resolutions was to try to shop smaller. I say “shop smaller” because I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall into an all or nothing mindset or end up guilt-tripping myself if I set expectations I couldn’t live up to. Just like knitting, change builds up slowly, stitch by stitch, and I was aiming for improvement and not perfection.
As you might have guessed, starting to work at Along avec Anna in 2021 was one of the prompting factors in my resolution. There’s nothing like working for a small business to make you realise in a tangible way the impact of even the most miniscule acts of support: a shared Instagram post, a word-of-mouth recommendation, a pattern download. I see first hand how it is the support of the community that Anna has built that has allowed a blog to flourish into a thriving knitting business. I understand that my potential to work on developing new products for the brand is directly related to people choosing to purchase Along avec Anna yarn over bigger, more established names. When I feel such a deep appreciation for each individual that makes that choice, how could I not feel moved to pay it forward?
Along my way, I’ve been trying to pay attention to the impact of these gradual but simple steps I’ve taken on my mood, on my relationships, and, of course, on my wallet. So, with all this in mind, I’d like to share some ideas and suggestions that have come out of this experience so far:
- Play matchmaker! Each time I see a small business I feel I want to support, or a product from small businesses that I particularly love, I try to think about where I’m planning to spend money in any case and how these things can overlap. Is there a friend’s birthday coming up? Has someone asked me to tell them what I would like for Christmas? Is my boyfriend at all loss for what to give his parents for their anniversary? Sometimes it can take time, but I normally find a match eventually!
- Put your own finances first! You can’t pour from a broke cup. While it feels good to support others (and so it should – why not enjoy that little ego boost?), it’s not worth it if puts you in a compromised position, and no small business owner would want to benefit at the expense of your financial stability.
- Thankfully, you don’t need to spend money to support small businesses! Spreading the word is incredibly valuable, and I know that at Along avec Anna we never take it for-granted. Some ways you could support Along avec Anna for free are: downloading one of our free patterns on Ravelry, sharing a post on Instagram, liking or commenting on our posts, telling a friend (or several!) about what we do, visiting us in the shop, or sending people to us if they ask what present to buy you or even reading my blog posts!
- Don’t assume shopping smaller will automatically be more expensive. Of course, it certainly can be, but it is not a given! I’ve found that it’s always worth taking a minute to do a quick comparison just in case. For me personally, each time I search for an item on Amazon, I try to do the same search on Etsy before I blindly buy it. You might be favourably surprised! Equally, shopping small for me means valuing the item in a different way and caring for it differently, which can also result in saving money by choosing quality over quantity. I don’t need to buy five mugs if I have a single beautiful ceramic mug that I chose from a local ceramicist that motivates me to wash it and reuse it constantly! (I genuinely won’t use any other mug these days…)
- Don’t neglect basics – shopping small is not only for luxury products. Yes, it’s a wonderful feeling to splash out and treat yourself to something a bit expensive and totally unnecessary from time to time (and it’s a great idea to do this in a way that supports small businesses!) but doesn’t compare the impact of buying just one basic necessity with regularity over a long period of time. This is one of the reasons I like to get many of my toiletries from small businesses, because once I’ve found the shampoo bar or face cream that fits like a glove, I know I’ll be sending my money in good direction time and time again, without needing to overthink it! (This has also saved me money!)
- Give the gift of a personal story! I love gaining an understanding of the ethos and work behind the brand and understanding how they came to be – for me this personal touch that’s one of the most enchanting things about shopping small. So why not make it part of the gift, and tell your recipient all about it, or even print off some pages from the website to go in the box to enrich the item with a unique story?
- Don’t feel bad for being an imperfect human being! In a world where having our every need met by giant (and incredibly efficient) corporations is the norm, we shouldn’t feel bad about ourselves if this has become our default. How could it not? But it’s important to keep in mind that purchasing from larger brands does not negate the positive impact we have when we make even a single different decision to shop smaller. And it’s never too late to take a moment to think, without judging our past selves, about how we could do things a little differently, about how we could shop just a little smaller.
If you’re reading this blog post, then you are supporting our small knitting business, and for that we are extremely grateful! We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so please let us know if you have any resolutions to shop smaller, or what your experiences with small businesses have been. Do you have any tips to add to my list? What is it that particularly motivates you to support small businesses? Let us know in the comments, or over on Instagram by tagging @along.avec.anna