It’s that time of the year again! Begin the frenzy of gift buying, running around town, scouring the web, making lists. Ahhhh yes, we WANT to shop small, we WANT to support local businesses, but who can afford it? Who has the time? What do they have that makes for good gifts?
There are so many ways to shop small!!! There are options in every price range, for every person on your list. And any gift bought through a small business is more than just a gift – it’s a way to support your local economy, to encourage market diversity. It’s a way to say YES, I value entrepreneurship, good service, quality products. It’s a gift within a gift, something special that your recipient would not have found on every second shelf in the nation.
Fine, fine, but we’re all busy, and shopping small takes some research. RIGHT! So I’m here to help you out. Every year, I try to share a few of my personal favorites, just to get you started. Hopefully it gives you some ideas – if there’s a small business you love, feel free to give them a shout out!
- BLUE SUN SODA SHOP (SPRING LAKE PARK, MN) This little shop recently opened near our home, so they get my first endorsement. It’s such a fun place to find a unique gift for the adventurous pop drinker on your list! They have hundreds (HUNDREDS!!!!) of varieties available. Our boys love to browse the aisles and take home something crazy. At a few dollars a bottle, it’s a perfectly affordable way to shop small. And what kid (or kid at heart) wouldn’t enjoy a bottle of banana or butterscotch or gingerbread soda? For the TRULY brave, you can even get flavors like buffalo or bleu cheese. Ummmmmmmm, you first. Find out more on their website: bluesunsodashop.com
- MID MOD MEN (ST PAUL, MN) Right across from my own little shop, this store is well known for offering a top-notch selection of beautifully restored/refinished midcentury furnishings. What you may NOT know is that they also offer smaller gift-friendly items like teapots and (listen, listen!) VINTAGE BARWARE! Last time I visited, they had a set of glasses that definitely needs to be mine – we can shop small for ourselves, right? From Cynthia, To Cynthia. Cheers!!! If you have a person on your list who enjoys a quality vintage treasure, stop by and visit these guys – they’re super friendly, and their store is ridiculous: Don Draper WISHES he was that cool. Follow on social media, or check out their website: midmodmen.com
- AMY O DESIGN. Amy does many things – she’s a past student/retired-art-teacher-turned-upholsterer/maker extraordinaire. If you’ve met her, you know she’s a firecracker! One thing she designs that I especially adore are these blank notecards. I have a set at the shop, and anytime I use one, I smile smile smile. They’re almost hard to part with, but they’re a delight to send – if you’ve received one, I must like you a lot. If you know someone who enjoys sending a hand written card on occasion, these cards are a wonderful gift idea – I’m especially fond of the farmyard friends, because THAT COW. Find them online at amyohdesign.com/products/notecards-farmyard-friends
- SOSTRATA. You know who loves handcrafted soap? My husband. For a guy who regularly tries to eat candy off the floor, he is shockingly snobby about soap. Heaven forbid we run out and have to buy a bar at the grocery store. THE HUMANITY!!!!!! But once we tried handmade soap, he was completely hooked. And it IS gorgeous stuff. At $7 a bar, it’s an affordable luxury, a great grown-up stocking stuffer. I’ll be headed to Sostrata this weekend to pick up some soaps in person, but you can shop their locally handcrafted products online at facebook.com/sostrata
- THE TEXTILE CENTER (ST. PAUL, MN) Okay, this might be cheating a little, as the textile center is not technically a business at all – it’s a non-profit organization, a “club house for fiber guilds” as it was described to me. BUT their gift shop offers the most amazing assortment of locally handcrafted gifts!. You can buy yarn, scarves, ornaments, jewelry, socks, MITTENS – I received this super duper warm pair as a gift this year and I LOVE them!!! If you’re buying for a Maker in the Twin Cities area, you may want to consider a membership so they can access The Textile Center’s vast library. As a crocheter and a brand new card carrying member, I’m looking forward to visiting the library myself very soon 🙂 textilecentermn.org
- WORKER B (MINNEAPOLIS, MN) You can shop Worker B online, but if you can visit their physical space in the Northrup King Building, I would highly recommend doing so – the people behind Worker B are so friendly and passionate and knowleadgable, it’s a treat to connect with them in real life. They are especially excited about their skin care products, a great gift option for anyone living in the harsh Minnesota climate. Check the reviews – it’s good stuff!!! For any foodies on your list, they also carry a huse assortment of specialty honeys – and they have a honey tasting bar, whaaaaat????!!! Merry Christmas! Here’s your honey, honey! More info at worker-b.com
Do you have a favorite place to shop small? Please share!!!! Let’s show small businesses some love this holiday season!!!