The days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday are shopping madness, when you finally get a chance to grab the Dyson vacuum or laptop you’ve needed all year at a price you can afford. But today is Small Business Saturday, which is a little less about benefiting you, and more about giving back to your local community. We hope you shop small and local whenever you can, but it’s a good day to show your support to the many small businesses that have been trying to get back on their feet since the pandemic started.
Shopping small doesn’t just mean going to the stores in your city’s downtown area—though you should do that too if you can. You can shop a lot of them virtually. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite small businesses with an online presence, and we encourage you to search for others close to home. Remember, it’s nice that we have a day dedicated to supporting these shops, but it’s important to shop local year-round.
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How to Find What You’re Looking For
Whether you’re looking for 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, and because many didn’t last year due to the pandemic, people are probably eager to set up a table.
But if you aren’t comfortable venturing out into a crowd, your favorite stores probably have an online marketplace with some or most of their stock. You can also find new stores these ways:
- Etsy is an obvious source as a marketplace of individual sellers. You can find nearly anything there, from custom art to vintage trinkets. Plus, Etsy hosts sales, whereas other small or local stores may not.
- Check your local Chamber of Commerce website. It’ll often list local businesses.
- Search hashtags on Instagram if you’re looking for a particular item, like say, plant jewelry.
- American Express has a searchable small-business map, but you may have to dig. When I searched my hometown, I got a huge list of restaurants and car washes as well as a few small boutiques.
- Amazon might be the last place you’d consider a small business (and rightfully so!), but the site now has a Support Small section. This is a good resource if you absolutely must use Amazon, but we still recommend buying from the small businesses directly anytime you can.
- For the rest of the year, 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 country, 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 can know you’re getting something good.
Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That
- Chaparral Studio (Los Angeles, CA): 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 Calore
- Indigo (Rockford, IL): This Latina-owned store highlights local women-owned small businesses and features everything from art to keychains to jewelry, apparel, and beauty products. The selection rotates—follow the store’s Instagram for up-to-date items—and the charming downtown storefront always has something new to find. It’s just across the street from the Rockford Art Deli, which is also featured in this guide. Founder Evangelina Jimenez—a friend of mine—offers gift certificates online as well as a collection of Indigo-branded goods. —Louryn Strampe
- One Million Roses (New York, NY): When my partner said she didn’t couldn’t wear jewelry (and didn’t want a ring), 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 pet and it’s what I proposed with (she said yes). —Julian Chokkattu