Top Reasons to Shop Local For the Holidays

Black Friday is nearly upon us! But you don’t have to fight the crowds to wrestle over merchandise in the hopes of grabbing a loss-leader item before they’re gone. We’re here to tell you there’s a better way! It’s shopping locally! There are so many great reasons, we’ve put together a list to get you started:

  1. Keep your money in the community. For every $100 spent at a local business, $45 stays in Austin, vs. only $13 for every $100 spent at a chain store. That’s money to fix the roads, maintain our parks, and sustain local services!
  2. Local business owners are your friends and neighbors. It’s not just a great idea to support your friends and neighbors, it’s a lot more fun! You can stand in line to be checked out by a bored cashier who just wants to get their shift over with and go home, or you can strike up a conversation with someone who is excited to do business with you, to talk about the products you’re there to buy, and build a lasting relationship with a vendor you’ll love to visit for years to come.
  3. Quality. Sure, you can get the same commodities everywhere, but locally-made crafts and products made with care will beat assembly-line produced products any day. Don’t get the latest trendy nonsense, stand out from the crowd with something unique, fun, and local!
  4. Fun. Have you visited a vintage or thrift store lately, or checked out one of our local icons like Toy Joy or Sue Patrick? What about Book People or Wheatsville Co-Op? We have such fun, funky shops, there’s just no reason to suffer the hordes at the mall when you could be out actually enjoying yourself instead! Why make shopping a chore when it can be a delight?
  5. Convenience. Our IBIZ Districts are clusters of locally-owned businesses all conveniently located so you can easily get everything done without traveling all over the city. Shop, dine, enjoy entertainment, and get the services you need all within handy walking distance. And with 8 to choose from . . . well, why even choose? Visit them all!
  6. It just feels good. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Sometimes it seems like they’re all about stress and chores and family obligations, but really – they’re about togetherness and celebration and community. So why not extend that to every part of the process, including the shopping part!

We’re doing out part to help by letting you know about upcoming events like Small Business Saturday and the IBIZ District Holiday Shop Hop on December 8th, so you can get your shopping done and have a great time doing it, enjoy some entertainment, maybe find some great deals. If you know of other events or tips for keeping our holidays local, share them in the comments!


7 Ways to Stay Productive Over the Holidays!

7 Ways to Stay Productive Over the Holidays!

Ah, the Holidays. Costumes, pumpkins, and candy. Turkey, ham, and hayrides. Trees, presents, and family. A wonderful time of year.  But for the entrepreneur or business owner, it’s a time when it’s easy to get sidetracked and forget that a startup never rests.  So by all means, have some fun, relax, enjoy yourself. But also find some ways to stay productive, and try not to lose momentum for your business.

1)      Don’t Make Resolutions, Make Plans.  This is a great time to reevaluate your business and your strategy. Evaluate where you are, and where you want to be, and work on any necessary course corrections while it’s quiet and there’s no one around to bug you. There’s never enough time for strategic planning, so use any lull during this time of year for this vital, but often neglected, activity.

2)      Use Holiday Parties as a Networking Opportunity.  This is the time of year for parties. Yay, parties! So go, enjoy without guilt, and spend some time meeting new people and making new connections for your business. People are in a good mood, spirits are high, and this can be a great time to build some new relationships. But watch out for that killer eggnog. It really sneaks up on you!

3)      Host an Open House or Party. Want a chance to show off your digs, or otherwise bring people up to date on what you’ve been up to, and get a little PR for your company? Host a party! It’s a great time of year to get people to come and enjoy a libation or snack, and learn about your company at the same time. But a word of caution here – check the calendars very carefully to make sure you’re not scheduling your event at the same time as 15 other hot-ticket parties. If it’s a Facebook party or your little shindig, Facebook probably wins (nothing personal).

4)      Get Organized and Catch up on Your Emails. If business is a little slow, and no one’s around to meet with, great! Spend some time getting to “inbox zero,” and following up on all those little tasks you’ve let slip by. Clean off your desk! Purge old files! Throw out the dead plants! Whatever you’ve been neglecting, now’s a good time to get it done and start the new year with a fresh slate.

5)      Catch up on Your Reading. Have a pile of magazines you haven’t read? A long list of bookmarked articles you haven’t had time to get to? 50 Pinterest boards you’ve been meaning to check out? 150 YouTube videos you’ve been meaning to watch? Got a stack of business books you really wanted to read, but just haven’t had time? Put your feet up and spend some time catching up on all of it. Maybe you’ll learn something that will help you improve your business or your life. You never know!

6)      Take a Day Off.  As a startup, entrepreneur, or small business owner, it’s likely you don’t take much time for yourself. Constant sleep deprivation and packed schedules can take a toll on your overall productivity and satisfaction with your business.  If you need a break, now’s a good time to take it. Maybe just an extra day here or there, maybe just a long weekend or two, or maybe just starting later in the day once or twice. Catching up on your rest, seeing a movie, seeing your family, spending time with friends, all of these can improve your overall outlook and health, and help you to return to full productivity on your return. If you can do it, maybe take a whole week off and head out of town. It’s amazing how refreshing a real vacation can be. But at this stage, that might be asking a lot. A long weekend, properly spent, can be pretty darned refreshing.

7)      Keep an Eye Out for Bargains. Everything goes on sale this time of year, from office furniture to professional services, as folks try to end the year on a positive note. If you’re in the market for anything that might go on sale, spend a little time bargain hunting. You may save some cash, and gain the feeling of accomplishment that comes with getting a good deal. That being said, I’d still stay out of the stores on “Black Friday.” That level of shopping stress can negate the restful benefits of a whole month of long weekends.

We hope you find these tips helpful. I’m sure you have a few we haven’t thought of, so be sure to add them in the comments!