#buysmall, Think Big

Last Wednesday was Amazon.com’s 20th anniversary, which they celebrated with a membership-drive-slash-Black-Friday-in-July event known as Prime Day. We respect Amazon and how far they’ve come—how many other 20-year-old websites can you think of?—but (and this is just, like, our opinion) we happen to think that bigger maaaybe isn’t always better.

If you know anything about Cotton Bureau, you probably know we’re small business to the marrow. Early in the day on Wednesday we came up with the idea of running our own counter-campaign, something along the lines of Small Business Saturday. A movement encouraging people to share the small or local businesses they love and support, and to help get the word out about some of our own favorites. A rising tide to raise all boats.

We called it #buysmall, and we’re thrilled with how it turned out. After spreading the word on social media we saw nearly 900 responses across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and the hashtag even ended up trending on Twitter in the Pittsburgh area. Not too shabby for a last-minute idea with a couple hours of preparation.

But what we loved most of all was the depth and variety of businesses that were shared with us. You showed us the stores you shop at, the artwork that decorates your wall, the bags you carry and the pins you pin on them. Where you buy your makeup, your candles, your coffee and cider and whisky. So many incredible businesses, in fact, that we don’t have room to share them all here.

And that got us thinking. We saw passion and excitement on Wednesday, and we wonder if #buysmall could become something more.  Want to know what's next? Subscribe to our newsletter and you'll be the first to hear.

A taste of what's to come:

Sara Cousins let us know about this Ohio-based maker of Stand-Up Longboards. We would have expected to see an outfit like this on the west coast, but in the midwest? Quite the pleasant surprise.

"Project 908 is dedicated to sourcing our manufacturing materials domestically and when possible from within Ohio. We do not pretend to manufacture, we are the manufacturers! That’s right, we do it all ourselves, from design, to machining, shaping or fiberglassing."

This Nashville, TN store, owned by Courtney Webb, sells everything from ceramics, to apothecary goods, to flowers through a CSA in collaboration with nearby (link:  text: Humble Flowers Farm).

"Most of the makers in my shop and most of your favorite local craftsmen have been in business 4 years or less. We all jumped off a cliff together and you caught us, even in a bad economy."

Thanks to Domestica—an endearing shop in their own right from Des Moines, IA—for the tip.

Mixing the past with the future, this solar powered company out of Cape Cod, MA makes leather goods like wallets, belts, bags, and more, all by hand using traditional methods. "[N]ot a single press has a power cord running to it." Tipster Ben Markowitz summed it up nicely: everyone needs a bottle hook.