Why Shopping Small Has Big Impact

How often do you shop small? Do you always go for the big chains, for example, to get your coffee or do you venture to the local cafes in your neighborhood? Are massive department stores or big e-commerce platforms your go-to retail destination or do you prefer the small stores that often carry more unique items?


When you shop small, you’re supporting small and local businesses. Not that we have anything against large chain retailers, but micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) not only need the most support especially when times are tough (the pandemic saw a lot of them closing up shop), they also make a big positive impact. When you shop small, you pay it forward with a slew of benefits. Here are five of them. 

1) You help your community.

The presence of small businesses nurtures its cultural scene and gives a community its character. Marikina became known as the shoe capital of the country because of the many shoemakers that made it its home since the late 19th century. Businesses like Zapateria, co-founded by master shoemaker Rico Sta. Ana, keep it going. Maginhawa and Kapitolyo became known as foodie havens, because of the many, small restos and cafes that were able to open up to serve customers with different budgets and tastes. 

More than making a community unique and interesting, small businesses pay taxes remitted to the city or municipality. You’re putting money back into your community when you support local businesses.

2) Make a positive impact on the economy.

Of the more than one million business enterprises in the Philippines, MSMEs account for almost 99.6% according to DTI. Together, they also provide 65% of the country’s total employment. That’s a lot! When you shop small, you get to help the small businesses provide for their employees.

During the pandemic, small businesses were affected that it saw layoffs early on in order to survive. In previous interviews with Izzo Shop, Gouache, and even Common Room on how they had to pivot, they knew it was important to stay open even if they were losing money because they knew what was important—their people. They held on because they also had to think of their sewers, staff, and makers who relied on them and the work they provided.

3) You get more originality, variety, and innovation.

From reimagining Philippine souvenirs and cute plushies, to creating unique art prints and a wide-variety of enamel pins and stickers, makers and small creative entrepreneurs get to bring different and more interesting ideas out to the market. 

While big corporations will likely have big teams to do research and come up with products that will sell and get approved through corporate chains, small shops and local makers get to provide a more unique perspective or take more risks with their creations. When you shop small you get to fund these ideas and help local businesses and makers do more of it.

4) You get better customer service.

Small businesses are only too happy to have you as a customer. Not surprisingly, several surveys (including this one) indicate that most customers believe that they provide better customer service than big business. 

We like the chat we had with Elly Ang of Danger in Design, when she had to pivot during the pandemic and how it just made sense to her to check in on her customers’ orders. But her customers really appreciated it. As this Harvard Business Review piece on customer service shows, small businesses typically have innate common sense and empathy.

 5) You get a face, a name, a story behind the item.

One of the things we like about carrying items from fellow small businesses and independent creative entrepreneurs is that there’s usually a story behind it. You can find out more things about the item, the maker, and the work that went into it, which makes your purchase more meaningful. 

Shopping small brings many benefits both to you and your community. Let’s celebrate Small Business Saturday on November 26 by supporting small, local businesses especially for the upcoming holiday season.


—written by Mabel David-Pilar
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications including a teen fashion magazine and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created startersisters.com to celebrate fermentation and eating more plants!