I absolutely love shopping small and I know that so many of you do too … but I also know that many of you struggle to know where to start! So here are a few top tips to get you started and help you get the most out of shopping small …
Utilise the market places available to you …
Places such as Etsy, Not on the Highstreet and Folksy are well known and super useful for searching for specific products. For example maybe you are looking for a mug from a handmade business, using Etsy to search is super quick and will come up with tons of results.
Another way to use them is to search for ideas for more general ideas such as Gifts for Mum or Kitchen Decor or Statement Jewellery. This is a great way to narrow down what you are looking for and something I often do, particularly to get ideas for gifts! You can also search through their pre sorted categories to narrow down your search.
However you can also use markets like mine to go back and scroll back through our posts. Many markets on social media (particularly Instagram) post about each business taking part in their markets so it’s like a little directory of amazing small businesses! The great thing about Instagram pages are that they are super visual making it really easy for you to spot products that suit your needs.
I definitely recommend visiting these online market pages to discover small businesses …
@pedddleuk (a market community and directory)
Instagram is Small Business Heaven!
Instagram is literally the dream for discovering small businesses, there are so many to choose from. I completely get that it can be overwhelming so there are a few things you can do!
1. Use # to search … eg maybe you are looking for some sustainable clothing ? Try searching #sustainableclothinguk #sustainableclothingbrand scroll through some of the posts that come up and click on any that take your fancy. From there you can look at the other #’s they’ve used and search them too!
You can also look at more general ones such as #smallbusinessuk #shopsmalluk #buyhandmade etc which will bring up a more varied selection of businesses!
2. When you find a business you like there is a little button that will suggest similar accounts to the one that you are on … click this and you’ll be given a selection of other businesses which you can look at. Now, beware, you will get into a never ending cycle of amazing businesses and will loose hours doing it! But you’ll have a wonderful time doing it !!
3. Once you’ve started following and interreacting with small businesses on Instagram you’ll be able to use the explore page! This page recommends accounts and posts that, from the algorithm (that mysterious thing!), Instagram thinks you’d like. I like using this to discover brands and accounts that are new to me. It’s a great, no fuss way to find new businesses. However … be aware that there can be some downfalls with this one ! It will show you very random things sometimes (as you can see by the random video on my explore page that says ‘4 Sambucas’ – I don’t drink so the algorithms definitely got it wrong there!). It will also often show me businesses based in America and Australia, I’m probably not going to order from them as shipping will be very high but it is still interesting to see them!
4. It’s also really interesting to click on follower/ing lists on different accounts … for example if you were to click on my following list you’ll have a list of over 2,000 small businesses to discover! But equally try clicking on other kinds of accounts lists too, maybe you’ve discovered a new business who makes cushions but you also want some artwork to match. Chances are the account you bought the cushion from will have a similar taste in art so will follow artists you may like !!
Ask Friends and Family
Word of mouth is such a huge part of running a small business so why not utilise it when shopping too?
Ask friends and family if they’ve bought from any brands that they recommend, maybe they follow businesses on social media. It might even be that a friend or relative of theirs runs a business. It’s always worth asking!
You could also pop up a post on social media if you are in search of something in particular, your followers may have the answers!
What to do once you’ve found businesses
Once you’ve found businesses that you are going to shop with there are a few things to remember !
- Small businesses are different to big brands. Remember that it’s quite possible that it’s a one man/woman business and they won’t have lots of staff to deal with enquiries, shipping, marketing etc. So if it takes a little longer for them to reply to messages just be patient! Many will also have a full or part time job alongside the business so won’t be available at every hour of the day.
- Remember, they aren’t Amazon! Chances are your order won’t arrive the next day but when it does it will have been sent with so much more love and care.
- Reviews are so important ! Once you receive your order do as much as you can to spread the word. Leave a review on their website, shop and social media. Post about the products and tag them! Tell friends and family, as I mentioned before word of mouth is so important!
I really hope this has given you some pointers to help you start shopping small … if you ever have any questions, want to find a specific product or are struggling to find new businesses just pop me a message or email and I’ll be happy to help!
And don’t forget to checkout previous blogs where I chat about lots of small businesses !!