Shopping small is more than a simple transaction.
Walking down Noyes street, the ambience makes itself known. Friends chattering while sipping on their drinks outside of Coffee Lab, the exchange of smiles and waves between those at Tomate and the passerby, the pumpkin display outside of D&D, Noyes street undeniably welcomes you in. Now imagine it without any small businesses. Instantly, everything that made Noyes street full of charm is gone. Small businesses bring a sense of individuality and character, creating a community for anyone to join.
There is also a significant difference between shopping at your local small business and a corporation. When you shop small, the majority of your money will stay within the community. You will be helping those that you are directly making a transaction with, instead of helping a millionaire CEO that you’ll never meet. Shopping small makes it personal.
Without small businesses, Noyes Street specifically would lose all the uniqueness and variety that it has to offer. Walking down a shopping strip allows the opportunity to explore and understand the community. From a cozy coffee shop to a variety of different cuisines, the friendliness and welcoming energy these establishments offer invites visitors and members of the community to interact and become a part of something.
Small businesses, in comparison to larger shops, have more flexibility with the items they carry. This means that they are much more willing to listen to customer requests and carry out those ideas in their stores. There is also a much more personal relationship between customer and server. It is very common for small business workers to know your usual, as well as your name. It is welcomed to strike up a conversation about your day or about your likes and dislikes. It is almost like having a conversation with a friend, even if it’s just a friend you see for five minutes as they make your morning cup of coffee.
Small businesses, especially those on Noyes, want to bring you into a community that they worked so hard to create. It stems so much deeper than a simple store to customer relationship, but a store to store relationship as well. The owners and servers at each store truly care about one another, and will do what they can to help and collaborate with each other. Whether it’s Tomate storing all of Coffee Lab’s milks after they go through a temporary power outage, or the community creating a GoFundme for Al’s Deli during the pandemic, or when Coffee Lab and Tomate worked together to give out hot chocolate and cookies during the holidays. These little acts are what create the community we get to be a part of.
In the end, shopping small is so much more than a simple transaction. It is an opportunity to get involved and learn about the members of your community. It is an opportunity for your dollar to go towards helping real people that you know and see everyday. We sometimes forget the impact small businesses have on our communities and often take them for granted.
Small businesses want to make their customers feel special. They want to know your names, know your usual orders, and be able to know what you want before you even have to ask for it. They want to care for you, because even if you haven’t already, they see you as a part of their community.
Shop local. Welcome to Noyes!
Alumnus, Northwestern University
Barista at Coffee Lab Evanston
Blogger & Marketing Specialist at Ignitus Digital Evanston