20.3 C
New York
Friday, May 24, 2024

It's Small Business Saturday. These Are Our Favorite Local Shops

Black Friday used to be a one-day sales event the Friday after Thanksgiving. People got up early to stand in line and sometimes literally fight over the last TV in Walmart. Then sales started to creep into Thanksgiving Day itself, and then came Cyber Monday. This year, “Black Friday” sales seem to have started as soon as Halloween ended. It’s been shopping madness all month

But today is Small Business Saturday, which is a little less about finding the perfect deal and more about giving back to your local community. We hope you shop small and local whenever you can, but today’s a good day to show your support to the many businesses in your community and elsewhere. That doesn’t just mean going to local stores in your area (though you should do that too if you can). You can shop at many stores virtually, including buying from singular people who make stuff in their homes. If the internet has taught me anything, it’s that there is someone who makes nearly anything you want: resin trinkets, clay earrings, or 3D felt portraits of your pets. These are our favorite small businesses with an online presence, and we encourage you to search for others close to home. 

How to Find What You’re Looking For

Whether you’re seeking something specific—vintage records or earrings made from skateboards, maybe?—or just want to browse, check for local events like flea markets. Many cities have a one-stop-shop event for this day. Your favorite stores probably have an online marketplace with some or most of their stock. You can also find new stores in these ways:

Etsy is a great marketplace filled with individual sellers. You can find nearly anything, from custom art to vintage trinkets. Etsy hosts sales too, while other small or local stores may not.Check your local Chamber of Commerce website. It’ll often list local businesses.Search hashtags on Instagram and TikTok. It can help if you’re looking for a particular item, like plant jewelry.American Express has a searchable small-business map. You may have to do some digging. When I searched my hometown, I got a huge list of restaurants and car washes, as well as a few small boutiques.Amazon has a Support Small section. This is a good resource if you absolutely must use Amazon, but we still recommend buying from businesses directly anytime you can.Check Facebook events for fairs or other local shopping gatherings. Many cities offer days each month (or quarter) where local businesses are invited to set up tables on a street or in a hall for the community to peruse their wares.Our Favorite Small Businesses

WIRED staffers live across the US, and we wanted to highlight some of our favorite small businesses with shoppable online marketplaces. We’ve browsed real shelves and shopped the online offerings so you know you’re getting something good.

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of ThatEarth (Rockford, IL): This is a brand-new store in Rockford, specializing in zero-waste home goods. You’ll find cleaning supplies, shampoo bars, and reusable pads, among a host of other goodies. If you’re in Rockford, you can visit the refill stations to further cut down on waste. —Louryn StrampeChaparral Studio (Los Angeles): Looking for original merch like T-shirts, jewelry, crystals, and other accessories? You’ll find it at this woman-owned store in Los Angeles—many items are handmade in-house too. We particularly like its brass keychains that don slogans like Dude, Babe, or our favorite, Feminist. Aligning with the mission of this business, a portion of each sale of the Feminist keychain goes to Planned Parenthood. —Michael CaloreOne Million Roses (New York City): When my partner said she didn’t wear rings, I had to think hard about what I could propose with. Enter One Million Roses. Started by Lucia Guzmán, a self-taught Bolivian artist, you can request a custom wire sculpture of nearly anything—pets, movie characters, flowers—and in a few weeks, it’ll be delivered to your doorstep. I got a custom wire sculpture of my dog (and my partner said yes!) —Julian ChokkattuMost PopularGearThe 15 Best Electric Bikes for Every Kind of Ride

Adrienne So

GearThe Best Lubes for Every Occasion

Jaina Grey

GearThe iPhone Is Finally Getting USB-C. Here’s What That Means

Julian Chokkattu

Gear11 Great Deals on Sex Toys, Breast Pumps, and Smart Lights

Jaina Grey

Treehouse Kid and Craft (Athens, GA): This toy store happens to have the single best online shopping experience I’ve found. The shop is wonderful. If you’re ever in Athens, stop by. But really, the website is almost better. Browse by age—why is this not possible on every toy website? There are tons of quirky original ideas here too, everything from a young chef’s knife and finger guard set to a stuffed cauliflower. What baby doesn’t want to snuggle with a stuffed cauliflower? —Scott GilbertsonCrush and Touch (Los Angeles): All my favorite pretty things come from this Los Angeles-based store. I will confess that I’m friends with the owners, but one glance at the website will show you that my allegiance is based on more than bias. Beautiful cards for all occasions, perfect jewelry and hair clips from a huge number of independent designers, and wild and wonderful art prints make up the Crush side, while Touch offers art supply care packages hand-curated just for you or a loved one. Sadly you can’t get the plants shipped, but I dream of moving back to LA and outfitting my entire home with them. —Megan GreenwellYoseka Stationery (Brooklyn, NY): You can spend hours in this little Brooklyn-based Japanese shop writing with the dozens of fountain pens or mechanical pencils laid out on the table. The notebooks are made of exquisite paper, and there are so many cute greeting cards, calendars, and other stationery goods to stumble upon. It’s a great place to buy gifts for the writers and sketchers in your life.  —Julian ChokkattuVintage FindsCulture Shock (Rockford, IL): Every city has a cool record shop these days; Culture Shock is mine. It has choice preorders and a dope selection, its prices are fair, and it carries music from local bands (like a personal favorite, Frail Body). Support your neighborhood record store! —Louryn StrampeMain Street Beat (Nyack, NY): I also have a favorite record store, and it sells vintage clothes and books too. It’s one of Nyack’s many great small businesses, with a diverse selection of goods, owned by two amazing local women. I may be a bit biased, having been previously employed there, but I worked at the shop because I truly loved it (and I spent most of my paychecks on cool vintage clothing, like Carhartt overalls). If you’re in the area, stepping in to flip through the hundreds of old and new records is worth the experience. But there’s a huge online selection too. –Medea GiordanoFriends NYC (Brooklyn, NY): This is a fun vintage store with options that range in price (and they even put some items on sale). You can find cool art, quirky home goods, and smoke supplies if that’s your thing. I bought a vintage work jacket that still holds up; you can never have too many jackets. —Julian ChokkattuPrints, Clothing, and AccessoriesNorman Roscoe (Denton, TX): I moved to Texas last year and was excited to wander into this little shop that’s full of vintage clothes and new prints (I got the Texas Babe tee), as well as stickers, hats, and mugs. When my sisters came to visit, I made sure to bring them there as well. The online store is huge. –Medea GiordanoRockford Art Deli (Rockford, IL): RAD is a sustainable print shop that sells everything from hoodies to tumblers. It shows love to a city that is often overlooked. The store is a One Percent for the Planet member too. I especially love the Rockford Peaches collection. —Louryn StrampeMalcontent Plus (Brooklyn, NY): I discovered Malcontent at a fair outside the Brooklyn Museum last year, and it’s where I picked up a really awesome (handmade) coat. If you’re a huge fan of outerwear, as I am, there’s probably something you’ll like here. Every item is made by a single Black artist in Brooklyn; it’s all unisex, oversized, and comes with huge pockets. What’s not to love? —Julian ChokkattuMost PopularGearThe 15 Best Electric Bikes for Every Kind of Ride

Adrienne So

GearThe Best Lubes for Every Occasion

Jaina Grey

GearThe iPhone Is Finally Getting USB-C. Here’s What That Means

Julian Chokkattu

Gear11 Great Deals on Sex Toys, Breast Pumps, and Smart Lights

Jaina Grey

Panther Puke (Scranton, PA): I discovered this brand while perusing one of the First Friday art events in my hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The owner, Ashley Kujat, makes interesting T-shirts—like this Shut Up shirt—and prints you won’t find at chain stores. I now have several pieces in my wardrobe, plus a print and even a cup. You can shop online at TeePublic or Big Cartel and follow the brand on Instagram for more releases. —Medea GiordanoRomShoes (Portland, OR): Portland has a lot of small independent businesses, but this is one of my favorites. It sells shoes, clothes, and accessories, and it’s owned by a local parent. The selections suit my mom life—they’re always practical but with a detail that makes you look twice, like a bronze puffer coat or high-top maroon mocs. I got my own mom-insulated espadrilles last year. —Adrienne SoTwisted Lily (Brooklyn, NY): If you’re into perfume, you should check out this Brooklyn-based vendor (sadly, the retail store is permanently closed). You’ll find eccentric perfumes here that aren’t available at big-box retailers like Macy’s. There’s no Chanel or Calvin Klein, but there are brands you might not have heard of, like Penhaligon and Etat Libre D'Orange. You can buy sample sets (starting at $4) if you want to try something you’re not too sure about. —Julian ChokkattuDan Freeman Leatherworks (Middlebury, VT): OK, you can’t purchase online, but if you happen to be in Vermont, you should stop by. While staying in Middlebury, I wandered into Freeman’s, where the owner makes custom leather shoes and hiking boots. All I could afford was a pair of bespoke flip-flops, but I’ve already been back once to have them refurbished, and he does beautiful work. —Jennifer ConradTeas, Coffees, and Home GoodsKalustyan's (New York City): This small food store has been open since 1944, and it has every possible kind of international spice, tea, and herb you could imagine.  —Jennifer ConradMeplustea (Athens, GA): I am a newcomer to the world of tea, but one thing I know from my love of coffee is that the fresher it is, the better. That’s why I was excited to learn about Meplustea, a local tea producer in my hometown of Athens, Georgia. Owner Precious Jones blends loose-leaf teas from around the world with locally grown herbs. I’m a fan of the Ginger Peach; my wife loves the Sweet Rose. —Scott GilbertsonUmami Mart (Oakland, CA): This store in Oakland is owned by a pair of Japanese American women. It sells Japanese kitchen and bar items, as well as interesting art pieces and wellness products, like soaps. —Michael CaloreFire Dept. Coffee (Rockford, IL): This coffee shop roasts delicious small-batch coffee, but that’s not the only reason I love it. The company is run by active and retired firefighters and donates 10 percent of its proceeds to help first responders who have been injured or are facing serious health challenges. —Louryn StrampeHome/Work (Santa Cruz, CA): Former WIRED editor (and all-around amazing human) Sonia McMoran owns a small shop in Santa Cruz, California, that spotlights small makers and sustainable companies. She’s obsessed with finding tools for the home that balance form and function. —Erica JewellJust BooksBusboys and Poets (Washington, DC): This bookstore and café has survived many waves of gentrification. It has a community coffee shop vibe that’s hard to find anywhere else. —Jennifer ConradThe Strand (New York City): The motto of this independent bookstore and New York staple is “18 miles of books,” although by now if you stack them all together, it has many miles more than that. The Strand sells new books, author-signed copies, and quarterly subscription boxes, but the real gems are the used books. If you love obscure out-of-print titles and rarities that are hundreds of years old, there’s a lot to discover. Thankfully, it has an online marketplace for those not in the city. —Matt JancerAlabama Booksmith (Birmingham, AL): Sure, you could gift someone a plain old book. Books are great! But consider first stopping by Alabama Booksmith, where every single title has been signed by the author—elevating a thoughtful present to a genuine keepsake. —Brian BarrettPrinted Matter (New York City): Printed Matter is a New York nonprofit that’s been around since the ’70s with an eclectically curated collection of prints, art books, and ephemera. I’ve been revisiting the library of independent publications I bought from the store over the years, and it’s a pleasant retreat from the Zoom machine. —Beth HolzerArchestratus Books (Brooklyn, NY): This store has a wide collection of new and vintage cookbooks from every corner of the world. If you’re in New York, it’s a good spot to pick up a quick gift, but there’s an online selection too. —Jennifer ConradMore Small Businesses We Like886 (New York City) is a Taiwanese restaurant in Manhattan, but if you can’t visit to eat there in person, you can buy its bomb chili sauce online (when it comes back in stock).Fine and Raw (Brooklyn, NY) makes delicious chocolate spreads and bars with organic, plant-based ingredients. You can tour the warehouse where they make everything and grab a bite or drink after, or just shop for it all online.Royalty Soaps (Poetry, Texas) is a woman-owned shop specializing in soaps that look good enough to eat. You can learn to make soap from the owner too, thanks to their YouTube channel.Kiriko (Portland, OR) is a Japanese apparel and home goods brand built on the ethos of recycling and wasting nothing. Clothing is made from recycled textiles, and it’s designed to last, unlike fast fashion.Kai D. Utility (Brooklyn, NY) makes all its clothes by hand in New York, and they’re all meant to last a lifetime. Cadence Candle Co (Washington, DC) is a candle company that also provides playlists with each scent.V-Picks (Nashville, TN) is where you go in Nashville to get handmade acrylic vinyl guitar picks that start to warm in your hand as you play.Couch Guitar Straps (Long Beach, CA) is a California-based company that makes everything from belts and handbags to, yes, guitar straps from deadstock—that is, unused material that another manufacturer has not been able to sell.Portland Design Works (Portland, OR) makes quirky, eye-catching gear for your all-weather bike commuter.Taylor Stitch (Portland, OR) is a sustainable shirting and menswear company based in Portland, Oregon.Cocktail Kingdom (New York City) is a New York-based company that makes premium barware (we especially like their jiggers).Small Hand Foods (Hayward, CA) makes high-quality syrups for drinks, whether alcoholic or not.


Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-Year Subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you'd like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

Related Articles

Latest Articles