By Erika Bailey, State Director of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center

Get a head start on your holiday shopping—and support local businesses—with Shop Small in July!

An extension of the nationwide movement Shop Small Saturday that traditionally falls on the first Saturday after Black Friday, Shop Small West Virginia was launched by the West Virginia Small Business Development Center and the Small Business Administration West Virginia District to inspire retailers to reach out to the estimated 40 percent of consumers who start their holiday shopping before Halloween.

Likewise, the WV SBDC is encouraging West Virginians to support local businesses. This July, whether you’re shopping and dining or just for looking for ways to have fun, you can give back to your community by shopping small. When small businesses succeed, we all do! Here are some ways you can participate:

Share the hashtag #ShopSmallWV:

Shop, eat, drink and play local, then share your “shop small” experiences on social media with the hashtag #ShopSmallWV.

  • Eat local: Dine at a local café or restaurant and post a picture of your meal.
  • Drink local: Visit your local coffee shop or brewery and snap a selfie with your beverage.
  • Shop local: Go shopping at a local clothing store or gift shop and share a photo of your favorite finds.
  • Play local: Attend a show for a local band, visit an art gallery, or go on an adventure—like kayaking, rafting or biking—with a small business outfitter. Snap a pic or a short video and tell us all about it!

Rock the “Shop Small” sticker:

  • Find Shop Small stickers at local shops around the Mountain State. Wear your Shop Small sticker and encourage others to shop, eat, drink and play local with you!
  • Be sure to post your Shop Small sticker photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #ShopSmallWV.

Know a local small business owner? Are you a local business owner?

This campaign is all about small business! Take this time to help your local small businesses prepare for the busy holiday months ahead. Small Business Saturday, which falls on November 24 this year, will be here before you know it. Find more information here to help prepare.

Businesses can stock up on “I shopped small today” stickers—available free from WV SBDC—and present them as a thank-you to customers. Encourage shoppers to take selfies while wearing the colorful stickers and share the images on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #ShopSmallWV.

As always, business owners can call on their local WV SBDC coach for a one-on-one consultation about marketing, social media and other tools. If they are not yet a client or have been in business for less than a year, WV SBDC has an early gift. All WV SBDC online or in-person classes are free from July 1 through Sept. 30, thanks to the sponsorship of the Regional Development Funding Corporation. Visit the Training Calendar to register for a free workshop or to learn more about what WV SBDC can do for local small businesses.

Stay tuned to our new webpage, for updates and events leading up to the holiday season.