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Etsy, Amazon, Instagram: Easy ways to shop small online, on your phone for Small Business Saturday

·4 min read

When I think of Small Business Saturday, I think of the town I grew up in, where the one main street is lined with small shops for toys, clothes, skincare, art studios and, frankly, an array of real estate offices.

The intent of the named shopping day is to encourage shoppers to support local businesses in this season of shopping and giving.

Amid the heralded deals and hype for large retailers around this holiday weekend, there are so many more ways to shop small for Small Business Saturday and every other day – especially with so many online platforms that support different kinds of small businesses and entrepreneurs depending what you're looking to shop for including handmade items and more.

Check out these easy ways to shop online and support small businesses.

For the handmade touch: Etsy, Amazon Handmade

We no longer need to attend an art fair or marketplace to find crafty gifts for those we love, especially those items with a personalized touch.

Platforms like Etsy are making shopping from independent craftspeople easy through smart phone applications and online. It's easy to fall into an Etsy-rabbit hole going through customizable jewelry, home decor and more – you can find pretty much anything on Etsy – and some sellers are participating in a "Cyber Sales Event" at the end of the year with up to 60% off goods (varying by seller).

Amazon is also finding its footing in the handmade sales space with Amazon Handmade, a part of its platform meant for creators to sell their goods. Some vendors even align with Amazon features such as Prime shipping.

"We obsess over customers and their desire for a trusted destination for handcrafted goods, which is what prompted us to start Handmade," Amazon says on its website, noting artisans from 80 countries are selling their goods on the platform.

Small business owner Gwen Beloti shows off her jewelry collection in New York City.
Small business owner Gwen Beloti shows off her jewelry collection in New York City.

To support just-launched businesses: Amazon Launchpad

If you’re always on the hunt for a newly launched business to check out, Amazon’s Amazon Launchpad, which started in 2015, might be a good place to start on Small Business Saturday.

The Launchpad is meant to support new businesses as they seek to overcome challenges while launching with help like expert advice, visibility and more, also providing opportunity for shoppers to find unique items from smaller brands.

Touting the description "big ideas from small brands," Launchpad focuses on innovation and enables "hundreds of thousands of small companies to sustain or even grow their sales during the COVID-19 pandemic," Amazon said in February while announcing grants for select participating businesses.

For pre-loved or vintage: Check out Depop, Poshmark, Etsy

Sustainable fashion has been trendy in 2021 for a number of reasons.

While there are opportunities to visit vintage shops in person and thrift in places like Goodwill, Housing Works in New York, Buffalo Exchange among other larger organizations, there are opportunities to shop small and shop second-hand from home.

You can create a profile to shop for (or sell) vintage or pre-loved clothes on platforms such as Poshmark (which has a vintage section), Depop and Tradesy, among others.

A seller’s profile may not meet the traditional definition of “small business,” but many people are supplementing their income or fashion habits by reselling old clothes on digital platforms. And others still have opened their own, virtual stores focusing on second-hand supply often advertising on platforms such as Instagram or TikTok.

Sellers can also offer vintage on Etsy and can take it beyond wardrobe to list items such as vintage holiday ornaments and more.

►Sustainable fashion is thriving: Here's how you can tap into ethical fashion practices

►Looking to sell? 6 apps and sites where you can safely sell just about anything

You’re scrolling anyway: Shop small on Instagram

If you’re like me, you probably spend an impractical amount of time on Instagram – and yes, product posts are tempting as we see prices and a quick click to maneuver to make a purchase from a business’s account directly.

While it may be dangerous given the easy access for those of us who compulsively shop already, Instagram makes it easy to tap and shop for products from Posts or Reels made by small brands we know or others that we may have never heard of on the app's "Explore" page.

And, in a brand's profile, a "View Shop" button takes you directly to their shop on the platform.

To support your favorite brands: Purchase online

While there are plenty of ways to shop on different platforms, there’s always the option to order directly from your favorite small business.

Regardless of whether shops have a brick-and-mortar location, they’re likely to have an online presence in 2021, too. So, for example, if I wanted to shop at a boutique I’ve visited in another state such as Pearls and Plaid in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, or Gypsy Moon in St. Augustine, Florida, I can easily find them online with a quick Google search to place an order.

►How small businesses: Can boost their cash flow heading into the holidays

►Trying to shop for a couple? 47 best gifts that they'll both enjoy

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Small Business Saturday: Easy ways to shop small online, on your phone