With Small Business Saturday coming up on November 28, 2020, local Christmas shopping season is here!
You don’t need to be fighting the crowds anyway, but how do you find a place to shop if you can’t wander from store to store through downtown? We’ve gathered a handful of our favorite small businesses, plus tips on finding your own local shops!
What is Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday is the day that consumers focus on spending their money at small businesses, rather than large retailers.
I know, I know, that should be every day – and I think we’re getting better overall – but it’s still great to be able to get the message out in such a big way.
History of Small Business Saturday
Ironically, Small Business Saturday was founded in 2010 by one of the biggest businesses of all: American Express.
Between 4 a.m. lines at the mall on Black Friday and the digital deals of Cyber Monday, American Express wanted to help draw attention to smaller, local retailers.
This year, American Express is also offering grants and resources specifically for Black-owned businesses, including a podcast and a curated list of 50 standout businesses.
When is Small Business Saturday?
For the last ten years, Small Business Saturday has taken place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
For 2020, that means it’s this Saturday, November 28.
Finding a Small Business
If you’re reading this, you probably already have a couple of favorite small businesses, but it can sometimes be hard to find others without trusted recommendations or stumbling through the door.
Finding Local Small Businesses
As the originator of Small Business Saturday, American Express has the honor of hosting a large database of small businesses. It’s not perfect, but it does allow you to search by business name or location, and you can filter the results into six general categories: dining, shopping, entertainment, services, travel, and business services. Unfortunately, the requirements to be listed are likely to exclude very small and microbusinesses (specifically, you have to accept AmEx, which makes sense, but…).
Another great small business database is Independent We Stand. If you know what you’re looking for, but don’t know where to get it, check this one out.
You could also try visiting your local Chamber of Commerce’s website. Small businesses are often active in their Chamber and there is usually a member directory available.
If you’re looking for a craft, Etsy is the place to go to find everything at once.
I don’t think Etsy is great for creators, but I have to admit that it is incredibly useful for shoppers.
If you missed the Happy Pawlidays Virtual Small Business Fair last Saturday, never fear! It’s available to stream on YouTube.
Don’t have 8 hours? Drop by the website and check out nine awesome small businesses from three countries.
Hey, did you know we had the pleasure of helping with that website and being a sponsor of the event? It’s true!
Small Businesses We Love
Joshua and I put our heads together and came up with a handful of our absolute favorite small businesses.
Hey, quick note – sometimes “small business” means this-one-person-who-runs-the-show and sometimes it means not-the-big-guys. I love loads of restaurants where you can go in and say hi to the owner, but that doesn’t help you too much!
Confession: We are Team Fancy Pen over here. We’ve probably picked up ten fountain pens and a dozen different colors of ink over the last three years. It’s a problem.
Just a couple of the things we love about Goulet Pens is how wonderfully everything is packaged (every order comes with a signed note that includes what color ink it’s signed with!), the care they take to make sure you can take good care of your new pen, and this season’s gift guide.
While most of the pens sold by Goulet are of the fountain variety, I have a refillable felt-tip pen that I absolutely love and use every day.
Richard’s Comics & Collectables
Okay, I know I said the thing about you can’t visit my favorite restaurants, but here I am going to recommend a shop you can’t visit and that doesn’t have any digital presence worth speaking of. I can’t help it.
Richard’s has been my comic shop of choice for fourteen years – since he purchased my previous comic shop and moved it down the road! Unless he’s at a Con, Richard’s pretty predictably going to be right behind the counter waiting to tell you what comic you should be reading this week. I’ve gone in planning on picking up one issue and walked about with a full bag and no regrets.
Maybe you can’t stop by and tell Richard hi, but I guarantee you can find an awesome comic or book shop in your area.
Boda Pipes & Cigars
Maybe it’s just the guys I know, but it seems to me that every single man around 30 has taken up pipe smoking.
Yes, I’m married to an old man.
When he took it up, I thought I was going to be completely grossed out all the time, but…it’s not bad. Actually, it smells really nice.
Once upon a time, we used to wile away our Saturdays playing cards at Boda. The ventilation was good, the guys at the counter were nice, they always hooked me up with fresh (local!) coffee, and the owner’s hobby was testing out panini recipes to add to his menu.
Monstrous Adventures by Marc Thomas
I met Marc at HeroesCon several years ago. He drew me as Wonder Woman, and I’ve basically been a fan ever since.
I had the great pleasure of backing both of the Kickstarters that produced the three volumes that make up The Monstrous Adventures of Beowulf.
I read Beowulf every year from seventh grade until college and it’s one of my absolute favorite works of literature. We read my son Seamus Heaney’s translation before his first birthday. What I’m saying is, I love Beowulf, and this is a great version. It’s gory and violent in a way that you might not expect from the art style, and everything works.
Want to know a secret? We don’t work on the traditional Apple computers around here (don’t get me wrong – I’ve got an old MacBook Pro for on-the-go and a shockingly old Gateway for major design projects). It took a little bit of getting used to, but we’ve been on Linux for the last two years.
This year’s big purchase was a System 76 Thelio. It’s a great computer, but the details are the real winner here. They go above and beyond with the packaging, the casing is nothing short of art, and I’ve even got the mascot robot paper doll on my desk.
Spice it to a Tea!
I think every small town has its own oil/tea/spices shop, but I’m partial to this one. Confession: it’s not my local spice shop. We have to go across state lines for this one, but it’s worth it.
Spice it to a Tea!‘s owner is cool and knowledgeable. The shop is stocked with teas from across the tri-state area and the mixes are some of the best I’ve found.
Tell us about your business!
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