Wednesday, February 28, 2024

In a world of superstores, some customers like to shop small

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Aly Mitchell loves interacting with her customers. Mitchell is the founder and owner of Paiya Clothing, a small business in Wilmington, in the U.S state of Delaware, that she opened three years ago.

“It’s one of my favorite things to put a face to customers and really meet them,” Mitchell said. “One of the perks of being a small business is that a lot of people connect with me and support me individually. I love that.”

Across the globe, in Amritsar, Punjab, India, Simran Bamrah runs a clothing boutique for women called Simran’s Drapes and Robes. Building the same closeness as Mitchell in Delaware, Bamrah has created a second home for herself and her community through her business.

“In smaller ventures, slowly and steadily, you are able to develop a close connection with the clients, as they feel like home with time,” Bamrah said.

Small businesses such as those started by Mitchell and Bamrah bring communities together. However, that’s not all that they offer.

Small businesses contribute to the larger economy.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), an agency of the federal government, reports that small businesses account for 44% of economic activity and create two-thirds of net new jobs in the United States.

According to the National Foundation of Independent Business, based in Nashville in the U.S. state of Tennessee, small businesses reported higher sales in the past six months and expect continuously rising sales in the coming months.

This rise could be attributed to the recent Coronavirus pandemic.

Data from the U.S. Census show a gradual increase in the amount of small businesses alongside a sizable decrease in large negative effects on them caused by the virus. During the months of the lockdown consumers were forced to stay home or frequent the stores near them, creating an influx of local shopping.

Delaware resident Marie Downes loves shopping in local stores.

“When I shop at small businesses it gives me a sense of pride. Knowing that I’m supporting a person or family in my community makes the experience that much better,” Downes said.

The universality of small business

Over in India, because the economy is so large, businesses are categorized by size — Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise — and this total sector is referred to as MSMEs. Based on data reported by Forbes, small businesses are the major source of economic growth in India. Being the second largest employment providers in the country, they benefit communities by aiding in the fight against unemployment in India.

According to Forbes, these small businesses account for 40% of the nation’s overall industrial production and 42% of all Indian exports.

While COVID-19 largely had a negative effect on businesses around the world, an American Express survey shows that Indian small businesses owners are optimistic about their recovery. Relying on their communities and consumer loyalty, they are confident that they will be able to bounce back.

The Indian government plans to double the number of jobs in micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses by 2025.

As it turns out, people have more trust in business owners they get to know. Small businesses tend to be more hands on and owners are able to adapt operations to better suit customer needs, providing more customized products and services at prices suited to customer budgets.

“Shopping small lets you buy the latest trends without being hard on the pocket,” Bamrah says.

Small businesses encourage entrepreneurship, create social stability and build trust in communities. “When I look back, I feel proud of myself,” Bamrah said.

Similarly, Mitchell’s goal is to provide customers with high quality clothing at an affordable price point. “It was probably the most important thing I did,” she said.

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