BBB ad­vice for shop­ping small or dig­i­tal

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - News - BY DENISE GROENE

Black Fri­day is not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea. The crowds, the fran­tic pace and the early shop­ping hours (for those want­ing the door­buster deals) may not be your idea of hol­i­day week­end fun. For­tu­nately there are other shop­ping op­tions to be thank­ful for. The Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau has ad­vice and tips for two of those: Small Busi­ness Sat­ur­day and Cy­ber Mon­day.

SHOP SMALL

Small Busi­ness Sat­ur­day is an event now in its eighth year, started by Amer­i­can Ex­press as a way of sup­port­ing small, lo­cal re­tail­ers and restau­rants. The day has racked up an es­ti­mated $85 bil­lion in sales over those years. Look for spe­cial deals at these busi­nesses to save you money as you help save “mom and pop” op­er­a­tions lo­cally. A few rea­sons to shop small:

Lo­cal job cre­ation and lo­cal spend­ing. Small busi­nesses pro­vide 55 per­cent of all jobs. When those job hold­ers spend their money you are help­ing the lo­cal econ­omy. 48 per­cent of pur­chases at lo­cal busi­nesses goes back into the com­mu­nity. That means more lo­cal taxes to sup­port ser­vices, schools, li­braries and roads.

Small busi­nesses help tie com­mu­ni­ties to­gether. They spon­sor lo­cal events and lo­cal fundrais­ers that ben­e­fit area res­i­dents.

AASup­port­ing one lo­cal busi­ness helps other lo­cal busi­nesses. They hire ser­vices from other small busi­nesses. They also may sell lo­cally pro­duced mer­chan­dise, of­ten unique items not pro­duced over­seas, giv­ing an added boost to the lo­cal econ­omy.

They can pro­vide per­son­al­ized ser­vice of a type no big box store can. In­di­vid­u­al­ized at­ten­tion means more cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. They know the area and are savvy about lo­cal trends. And it doesn’t take them long to know you and guide you to­ward items that fit your taste.

Small busi­nesses are less “cookie-cut­ter.” They add flair and per­son­al­ity to a com­mu­nity in a way the big box stores can­not.

AAAGO CY­BER ON MON­DAY

For those look­ing for the con­ve­nience of on­line shop­ping, Cy­ber Mon­day has much to of­fer. Be­gun in 2005, at a time when con­sumers would wait un­til re­turn­ing to work on Mon­day where they had ac­cess to more pow­er­ful work com­put­ers, it has ex­ploded to $6.59 bil­lion is sales last year. Here’s how to max­i­mize your Cy­ber Mon­day shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence:

Do a bit of plan­ning. Put to­gether a shop­ping list early. Then you have the time to re­search prod­uct prices and re­views.

Use the list to stay fo­cused and re­sist get­ting off track when spot­ting ad­ver­tised

Aitems you may not re­ally need.

Use Cy­ber Mon­day web­sites that serve as a clear­ing­house of mul­ti­ple re­tail­ers’ deals. Some do com­par­i­son-shop­ping and you can set up alerts to tell you when a par­tic­u­lar item is re­duced. Look for pro­mo­tional codes and deals at the in­di­vid­ual store sites as well. Don’t over­look their so­cial me­dia sites.

Brick-and-mor­tar stores, es­pe­cially if their Black Fri­day sales were dis­ap­point­ing, may sud­denly de­cide to match or beat on­line spe­cials.

Mo­bile apps can make it eas­ier to do quick com­par­isons.

Watch the tim­ing on spe­cials. They may have a nar­row win­dow of avail­abil­ity and lim­ited sup­ply. Early morn­ing shop­pers re­ported the steep­est dis­counts last year.

Watch out for hid­den costs. Look for high ship­ping cost or taxes they may af­fect the amount you re­ally spend.

Check out those on­line sites at bbb.org for re­views and other shop­pers’ ex­pe­ri­ences.

Spur-of-the-mo­ment shop­ping can add to your costs. Take a lit­tle time be­fore­hand and your postBlack Fri­day shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence can be much more re­ward­ing.

AAAAAAIf you have more ques­tions, con­tact the BBB at 800-856-2417, or at bbb.org.

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