If you're not already hearing "shop small" in everyday conversation, or seeing the #shopsmall hashtag make its way into your social media feeds, you're likely to, soon. The concept of shopping small isn't new but is quickly moving from fringe to mainstream chic. What exactly is the Shop Small Movement of today and why is it gaining momentum? Short answer: it's about consumerism on a micro scale, which is gaining popularity because of new motivators and fresh energy. Here are 4 reasons to embrace it in 2018:
1. It's hip to be small
Gone are the days when big brands dictated what was is in and is out. Now, it's the artisans, craftsmen and boutique studios who have the upper hand. Because of the pace and avenues created by social media, makers can quickly find their audience and fill a demand without the overhead of corporate think-tanks, giant marketing campaigns, and large production conglomerates. They can turn collective demand into a supply within weeks instead of months, utilizing organically formed and free think-tanks made up of potential customers via social networking, create a prototype and gain immediate feedback, and make tweaks with very little time or cost investment. It doesn't take long for that now-perfectly-tweaked product to be shared and gain popularity. Overnight, a new trend is born.
2. It's Eco-Friendly
Let's face it, we've got a problem on our hands, called climate change. It seems that most people on this planet now recognize the degree to which we are responsible for our environmental problems and that we have to make some serious changes to keep the ticking time bomb from exploding. Choosing products made in small-batch, energy efficient environments, that have a shorter journey from production to consumer, lessens environmental impact. By purchasing directly from makers or artisans, or from companies like Grown & Crated who curate small-batch products with a focus on ethical makers and shortening the journey, you're making a choice that supports environmental health.
3. It's more accessible than ever
There's no doubt that Amazon and online big-box e-commerce sites have made our lives easier and given us back precious time. It took the big corporations with massive funding and resources to perfect the processes, offering one-click shopping and speedy door-to-door delivery. Of course, many of these big lot e-commerce stores are the same ones that primarily carry cheaply-made factory-produced products that travel great lengths to reach us. Until recently, consumers were forced to make trade-offs: having to choose mass-produced goods that were easily bought online saving valuable time and energy, or, taking costly time to peruse local markets and boutiques for high-quality, artisan and ethically made goods. Now, websites like Grown & Crated, among others, have adopted the same high-efficiency processes as the big-box retailers but with a focus on high-quality, small-batch, artisan-made products. They support the Shop Small Movement, with the same efficiencies as their Shop Big counterparts.
4. It's good for your health
A recent study done by The Grommet, featured on the Jan. 4, 2018 edition of NPR Marketplace, found that 64% of Americans feel guilty about the products they purchase. The same study reported that farmers markets, filled with fresh, artisan and small-batch products made by #shopsmall makers, have been growing annually 17% year-over-year since 2008. People are waking up to the impacts of the consumer choices they make and are no longer settling for the ignorance-is-bliss attitude toward mass consumerism. Guilt breeds stress, and stress breeds unhappiness and disease. By making choices one feels good about, you alleviate stress and support your own well-being. Additionally, the artisan and maker community places a high value on freshness, organic ingredients, and the less-is-more philosophy. When a food product isn't designed to sit on a shelf for five years, there isn't a need for the type of preservatives found in far too many manufactured products. Many of the food and health products made by small-batch makers are free of preservatives and chemicals found in mass-produced counterparts.
So, readers, tell me: Do you Shop Small? Do you have other reasons for doing so? Will 2018 be the year you embrace it?
If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you! —Elizabeth Johnston, founder of Grown & Crated