Opinion | Small businesses thrive in online spaces


Photo courtesy of Scott Beale/Laughing Squid/Flickr

The Etsy logo displayed on record vinyls at the Etsy headquarters in Brooklyn on March 23, 2011. Columnist Maggie Knutte believes that online shopping provides a better outlet for small businesses.

By Maggie Knutte, Columnist

It’s a hobby — and an addiction. Online shopping has made it easier than ever to purchase products with just the click of a button, and people can’t get enough of it. It has been a real convenience, especially during the pandemic, to buy goods from the comfort of your home. 

Online shopping platforms have been a blessing, particularly for small businesses. In a world dominated by monopolistic corporations, it’s almost impossible to compete traditionally. While retailers like Macy’s and Walmart continue to rule strip malls, small businesses depend on websites to find their customers. 

These websites are known as e-commerce platforms, which allow shoppers to buy goods or services directly from a website. Etsy is a fairly popular site where vendors are able to sell their products, most of which are handmade. You can find many products that make for good gifts, ranging from handcrafted jewelry and clothing to homemade decor.

Supporting small businesses is also very easy to do thanks to the internet. You can reach many small businesses on e-commerce websites. Thanks to shipping companies, you can support vendors from across the country — or even in another country. 

When shopping for custom-crafted items, there can be some advantages and disadvantages. 

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Compared to store-bought goods, handmade goods are often more expensive. This occurs for several different reasons. These products are not generated by a machine — they are carefully crafted by another person, who usually spends a good amount of time doing so. Their meticulous efforts create a one-of-a-kind product for each customer. Often, the material quality will be higher end than that of cheap, machine-made goods. Independent vendors want their items to be long-lasting to satisfy their loyal customers.

Additionally, handmade products are more eco-friendly. Take crochet goods, for example — they can be created by both machines and by people. The machines are often large and contribute to air pollution through their hazardous chemical byproducts and exhaust. But when people hand crochet items, this does not occur. 

Even with the ease of online shopping, small business owners still struggle. It can be difficult when the demand for a product is high but there is not enough funds or time to fill all the demands. The opposite can also occur; these types of businesses can struggle to get attention due to a lack of marketing. Online ads, commercials, billboards — advertising isn’t cheap, especially when expenses are tight. Helping out a small business is important because they may be struggling to share their craft with the world. 

When you support a business, you can choose who you are supporting. There is often underrepresentation in the demographics of small business owners in the United States. Minority business owners only make up only 18.3% of all businesses, including large corporations. Seeking out businesses that are owned by minority groups is a great way to boost their business and open up space for other minority-owned businesses to thrive. 

If you’re looking to support small businesses, here is a start. You can help keep traditional trades alive and support real people from your cellular device. 


Maggie is a sophomore in LAS.

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