Small Business Saturday (and Buy Nothing Day)

November 23, 2011

I’ve seen a lot of buzz about the second annual Small Business Saturday on Facebook in the last couple weeks. For those who aren’t aware, Small Business Saturday, falling the day after Black Friday, is a marketing ploy by the folks at American Express to encourage consumers to shop at independent and locally owned stores in order to boost neighborhood economies. It’s a pretty great idea, but it does seem a little odd that the day was dreamed up by some folks at a large corporation and has a number of corporate sponsors, right?

Well, regardless, Small Business Saturday overlaps with one of my personal guidelines for the No Stuff Experiment: when buying necessary material goods, like groceries or toiletries, or going out for dinner or to the movies, choose local and independent sources over big corporations.

I haven’t stuck to this guideline like glue; in fact, in the last few months, I’ve been a little careless about it. I’m flying Continental/United to Florida for Thanksgiving tomorrow. We stayed in a Holiday Inn in Huntington for Marshall University Marathon weekend.* I regularly buy dry goods, dairy products, and cleaning supplies from Whole Foods.

But, earlier this month, I renewed my buy-local efforts when I found out that a new MOM’s Organic Market had opened just down the road, in Herndon. MOM’s is an independently owned chain of organic grocery stores that started in Beltsville, Maryland, in 1987. Since then, it has expanded to eight locations, two of which are in Virginia (one more VA location, in Merrifield, is due to open in 2012). For such a small space, the selection at the Herndon location is fantastic, and I found nearly everything on my grocery list (save white vinegar in cleaning quantities and plain cow’s milk yogurt). MOM’s has a decent local wine selection and shelves full of organic nut butters, but what’s even better is they have the Story of Stuff playing on a loop on one of the aisles.

It’s pretty darn exciting when a business that shares your ideals—with the mission “To Protect and Restore the Environment”—opens up your neighborhood. I am looking forward to giving MOM’s my business this winter.

But since I will be in Florida visiting family for the weekend, I will not be stopping by my new favorite grocery store on Small Business Saturday. Instead, it’s more likely I’ll participate in twentieth annual Buy Nothing Day, which coincides with Black Friday and this year has an OWS theme. I wonder if Occupy St. Pete will do something for the occasion.

*Got my PR by 22 minutes, by the way: 4:24:00. Woo!

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