Official Student Newspaper of Henry M. Gunn High School

Carly Liao

Pro: Should students avoid shopping at big businesses?

If a person were to walk into a Macy’s, TJ Maxx or Target looking for a white, button-down shirt, they would certainly find what they came for. Still, while they might walk back to their car with the right item, they will have lost something great—the reward of obtaining an item after a strenuous search, the joy of personal, face-to-face interaction or even the feeling that their purchase is making a positive impact on the world. In short, they’ll lose the experience they could have found at a small business. It is important, but most of all rewarding and beneficial, to shop at small businesses over larger ones. They offer a more personal experience through better service, unique products and a stronger emphasis on social and environmental responsibility. In the big picture, small businesses are vital to keeping local economies healthy and protecting the public from monopolization.

As the name suggests, small businesses are, well, smaller: They have fewer customers, lower revenue and less space. As such, they must go the extra mile to assist and retain their smaller customer base. In a 2011 American Express Survey, 81% of respondents said that small businesses had better customer service than their larger counterparts. Small businesses value their customers more, largely because they have time for them— whereas when shopping at big businesses, complaints or queries can easily be overlooked.

Not only do small businesses care more for their customers, but they also care for their communities. According to another American Express study, small businesses donate around 6% of their revenues to charity, while larger businesses donate only 1%. Forbes found that small businesses are also more likely to purchase products locally, which reduces transportation times and, consequently, pollution.

Additionally, small businesses are significantly better for local and domestic economies. According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy, for every $100 spent at locally-owned businesses, $68 stays in the local economy, compared to only $43 at a national chain. By keeping money within the local market, small businesses are able to provide jobs and stimulate local economic growth. A 2015 Department of Commerce report showed that U.S.-based multinational corporations hired half as many overseas employees as domestic employees—a figure expected to rise. As American big business continues to grow, its domestic workforce is shrinking. At the same time, small businesses continue to employ about 50% of the domestic workforce, according to the same Department of Commerce report. Therefore, by supporting small businesses, one also supports individuals placed both locally and nationally.

While it is at times more efficient and cheaper to shop at large companies, this choice comes with detrimental impacts on the economy. If small businesses fail, large businesses will take over and monopolize various markets. One recent example of monopolization is Ticketmaster: The U.S. Department of Justice reported that Ticketmaster controls over 80% of the concert ticketing industry. With competitors out of the picture, monopolies will inflate prices at the expense of their customers. For example, Ticketmaster is able to charge exorbitant service fees with little incentive to improve their services. Public support
for small businesses stands in the way of this possibility.

This is not to say that one should never shop at a large business. It is, after all, necessary to solicit both small and large businesses to circulate money domestically and internationally. However, it is important to remember the vast advantages that come with frequenting small businesses more often than larger ones.

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