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Before my fiancé and I started our food truck two years ago, I lived for holiday deals at the big box retailers. But after becoming a part of the small business community, my shopping habits changed: I chose the farmer’s market over grocery store chains. If I needed a cute outfit for a party, I stopped by consignment shops instead of the mall.
Though small businesses can’t always compete with the blowout deals of the larger retailers, I like the lasting connection they afford. Whether it’s swapping entrepreneurial horror stories with the owners of my favorite bars and boutiques or getting a handwritten thank-you from an Etsy store owner, the personal touch can’t be manufactured.
So if you missed Small Business Saturday—the third-annual event strategically sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday—you’ve got a few more weeks to make up for it: Take time to shop at a few small businesses this holiday season.
Often, that means shopping local. But with a little research, you can shop small online, too. Here are a few of my favorite (mostly) lady-owned small businesses that offer great customer service and gifts for your loved ones.
Winter is coming, which means ashy skin on my head, shoulders, knees, and toes. But Oyin Handmade, a small business based in Baltimore, has found the cure for dry skin. The wife-husband duo, Jamyla and Pierre, have been whipping rich creams and botanical styling products together since 2001, and they’ve got product lines for hair, body, men, and babies. Not only do the products make me feel amazing, but they’re also free of petroleum, silicones, and parabens. I love the whipped shea butter and the juices and berries hair tonic to keep your hair shiny.
Shop Now: www.oyinhomemade.com
These scarves can make anyone feel warm—and cool—at the same time. I discovered knitter Yokoo Gibraan’s handmade scarves and hats on Twitter, and I love her style and attention to detail. Since 2007, Gibraan has pumped out stylish creations on Etsy, and she was even featured on the site’s “Handmade Portraits” series. My favorite scarves are the Dookie Chain Scarf and the Snow Leopard. And if you’re not a scarf person, check out Gibraan’s other Etsy store, xMOTHERx, which showcases her handmade skirts, dresses, and aprons.
Shop Now: etsy.com/shop/Yokoo
Brown Napa Valley
Invited to your boss’s house for a Christmas party? If you’re smart, you’ll bring a hostess gift, and an exclusive bottle of wine will set you apart. Try a Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, or Chardonnay from Brown Napa Valley, a family-owned vineyard based in Saint Helena, California. Though big box retailers offer wine at lower prices, I admire the Brown Family story and the commitment to their product. After all, family was one of the top motivations behind starting our business. Often we would dream of standing on our version of Pride Rock and telling our children, “One day this will all be yours.” John and I wanted to create something that could grow with each generation and the Browns are a perfect example of nurturing their family’s small business.
Shop Now: www.brownestate.com
These are just three of my favorite small business shops you can access online. But it’s a big retail world out there, so pick your favorites! And let us know where you plan on shopping at this holiday season, be it local or online, in the comments section.