Why You Should Start Shopping at Small Businesses


Abigail Felan

Cristina Abello, co-founder of The Vintage Locals, creates individual pieces and repurposes thrifted items.

The holiday season is approaching and finding the perfect presents for family and friends is a top priority for everyone. It may seem easier or safer to shop from large companies like Amazon and Target due to the pandemic and the almost instantaneous shipping of these brands. However, these major clothing companies serve as one of the major unsustainable factors for the environment and overall well being of its workers. In a time where shopping is at an all time high, the best way to support your local community and ensure that you are doing your part to stimulate the global economy is to shop from small businesses.

Fast fashion is a highly profitable business model for the corporations who produce the manufactured product but detrimental to the environment and the workers in impoverished countries making the textiles. This industry produces a large chunk of the world’s carbon emissions, utilizes a large amount of the world’s water supply and pollutes the ocean with microplastics from fabrics and accessories. Evidently, this trendy and cheaply-made clothing is not made to last, making it unsustainable and frequently thrown away. The reason it’s so cheap is due to the horrible conditions of the unpaid workers manufacturing the clothes in less developed countries. Working for more than 11 hours a day to receiving a meager income in inhumane conditions allows for clothing companies like Zaful to have a monopoly over towns across the world. Fortunately, there are better alternatives out there and a little goes a long way. Shopping small has numerous upsides because it limits the involvement within the cruel side of the fashion industry.

“The issue [with fast fashion] is that trends and styles come and go, and so cheap clothes that match those trends are sold every time they change. People buy from these stores mainly because it is cheap which leads to clothes being thrown out often and the demand for more production,” sophomore Ariadna Torras said.

What does this mean? Shopping small means shopping from small businesses either online or in your city. Rather than supporting a probable billionaire, purchasing from businesses like these helps support the average Joe. By supporting your community, you are stimulating the economy on a more personal level that affects everyone. Moreover, small businesses sell products that are extremely unique and personal to the maker. Being creative, whether it entails baking brownies or tie dying sweatpants, requires a personal element of the creator. A piece of the person who makes the product goes into each creation. While still remaining with some trends, small businesses have products that you would never find on Amazon. There are endless benefits to purchasing from small businesses!

On Instagram, it is super simple to search for the hashtag #shopsmall or #smallbusiness to find some from all over the world with products that you like and might be interested in purchasing. Transactions take place through Etsy or through payment apps such as Venmo, Zelle or Paypal. Through the efficiency of social media and modern day technology, purchasing a pair of handmade heart shaped earrings from a small business in London is as easy as ordering a pair of plastic pearls off of Amazon. Try supporting small businesses before jumping to catch a deceiving “up to 70% off sale” from Zaful or FashionNova.

“The fashion empire is extremely destructive to the environment, leaving one of the biggest carbon footprints. The best way to purchase clothes is from small businesses, they usually have handmade pieces or are eco friendly,” junior Cristina Abello said.

You do not have to look far to find a small business you can easily support. At Gables, there are even students who have created their own brands and market their individually curated products to their Coral Gables audience. Students at Gables have found a way to be creative, make a profit and provide easy access to sustainably cute clothing. Gables Earth (@gablesearth) has even highlighted the importance of boycotting fast fashion brands through thrifting. Make sure to check out @thevintagelocals by Cristina Abello and @denimpants by Ariadna Torras on Instagram to get a peek at the wonderful world of sustainability that small businesses belong to.

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