Last year I did almost all of our holiday shopping at local small businesses. Through the years my idea of Christmas shopping has changed from big malls and chains to the little guy on the corner. It may or may not have to do with my avoidance of crowds, overheating and fighting parking lot road rage which kind of puts a damper on the whole holiday spirit thing. This post is for all your holiday shopping not just for Christmas gifts. From November 1st through January 1st we all have shopping to do for a multitude of holidays. This is a guide on how to shop local & small for all your holiday shopping needs.
That is really the first thing you need to do. You need to know what is available out there. I am confident you will be pleasantly surprised by the magnitude of small businesses that offer a lot of what you are looking for no matter where you live. Thankfully I live in an area that has been revitalizing all of the downtown areas…not just the bigger cities either, the small boroughs as well. You can get a listing of small businesses that participate in Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) which will allow you to become familiar with some small businesses in your area you may not have known about previously.
Make your list.
From food to jewelry…from your new born nephew to 90 year old Aunt Betty…make a detailed list. Make a schedule. Know days and times you have set aside to do your shopping. That will help to determine where and when you will be shopping and help you shop local and small so you know what’s open when. Last year I made 3 dates with friends for lunch and shopping, 2 of those were in local down towns. We not only had an amazing time being together, but got to enjoy line free shopping, free parking, and amazing food!
It won’t break your bank.
I hear you, we all want a good deal and some of the big department store ads are really alluring. However, if you know some of your local stores now is the time to get on their email list because just like the major retailers, they also have great deals, don’t miss out on them. Over the years I have come to appreciate one small high quality gift instead of a ton of cheesy things that don’t last past Valentine’s Day, and that’s what I want to give as well.
Small local stores carry big name brands.
What major name brands are on your list this year? Nike? Timberland? NFL apparel? Cuisinart? Kitchen Aid? Coach? Pandora? You name it these small locations sell big time name brands. You will even find different things than you will at major department stores. One store I know carries all the sports teams not just local ones like the two major sporting good retailers around the corner from my house. WooHoo!
Don’t forget these other small businesses…
You don’t need to have a brick and mortar store to have a small business. Direct Sales Associates are also considered small businesses. They sell products ranging from health and wellness products to jewelry and everything in between. The nice thing about direct sales companies is that they often offer higher quality products for less because they don’t have the overhead like retail establishments. You can find a list of direct sales companies that are members of the DSA (direct selling association). I would steer clear if they aren’t a part of that organization.
Etsy store owners are also small businesses and WOW what amazing things they offer. Etsy has a great search feature you can use to find Etsy store owners local to you. Just click HERE to do a search. Whatever you are looking for you can find it on Etsy. From customized jewelry, pillow covers, hand carved wooded chairs, hand knit scarves, home decor, craft supplies, toys (which for me has been the hardest thing to find from small local businesses) and candles…actually really anything you can think of you can find on Etsy.
Antique stores also carry some pretty special items. Someone looking for a set of glasses for their kitchen? Why not get a super special broach that reminds you of Great Aunt Ida for your niece so she can know her too? I picked up a simple cookie cutter at one years ago that I use every year to make my husband his Nana’s favorite Christmas cookies. They are really worth popping into from books to crafts and the fun old Christmas decorations. It’s always worth a quick walk through.
Coffee Shops are another don’t forget. They are a great place to grab a gift card to for anyone on your list. One local to us is owned by a church in a down town area and gives back it’s profits. It’s a great place to meet up with a friend, go on a date or pop in to warm up while shopping down town.
Hair Salons. Looking for a manicure, pedicure or some fancy lotions and potions? They always have great products as well as styling tools like curling irons, hair dryers, flat irons and massage gift certificates (yeah I had to toss that into the mix!). The owner works at most salons so make sure to ask for them and just let them know you are there for Christmas shopping reasons.
Don’t forget your holiday dinners and parties!
Yes, even food can be purchased from small business owners. One year I even ordered a whole fillet for Christmas dinner – the butcher called me the week after Christmas to see how it was. I have never had a grocery store call me before. Small local bakeries offer amazing things for your holiday parties, gifts, and for when ummm you didn’t have time to bake for the company party after all. I would recommend EatWild to find pasture based farms near you, you can search for local Butchers HERE, for local Bakeries HERE,for local Farmers Markets HERE, local Wineries HERE. Don’t forget your local pubs and restaurants as well that are owned by your neighbors! Perfect to grab appetizers from for a party, a last minute gift card or lunch during your shopping adventures.
I hope this has opened your eyes to what shopping local and small is all about. There are so many options not many of us think about. Once you have your list complied start looking for the stores you’ll hit and their hours. Make a route if you are on a time constraint, otherwise just enjoy finding new places along the way. And if you want to be extra kind, take cash with you. The fees some small businesses are charged for credit cards is insane. Every little bit helps. Wishing you and your loved ones a very special holiday season filled with love, joy, peace, health and hope found in the coming new year.