Here are a few small businesses and local favorites where we’re doing our holiday shopping.
Our editors have traveled the country and the world, tasted different restaurants, and explored the ins and outs of your favorite cities’ institutions—so we had to ask them: Where are you shopping this holiday season?
We rounded up our team’s favorite local businesses for holiday shopping. From a New Jersey boutique bookstore to a California furniture designer, these are just some of the small businesses they’re shopping this holiday season.
Top Picks for You
Books & Books
I was disheartened when the local, independent bookstore in my neighborhood, Books & Books, closed its South Beach location this year after more than 30 years in the area (sigh, 2020 strikes again!). Fortunately, they have another location in Coral Gables where I can do my holiday shopping. Yes, it is more inconvenient to drive to another neighborhood than to get books delivered from Amazon, and yes, I’m going to do it anyway. And why, yes, you can order from them online. Say it with me: supporting the little guys is worth the extra day or two of shipping! But it’s not just my bookstore that’s in a rut. In New York City, the famed Strand, an absolute institution, recently posted on social media that their business is in trouble—and a whole bunch of lovely New Yorkers lined up down the block to help. How’s that for holiday spirit? If there’s a local bookstore in your neighborhood, consider shopping with them before going to Amazon. Consider the joy you feel when they decorate for the holidays, curate their editors’ picks, organize readings, or serve hot chocolate while you browse for the perfect gift—they work really hard to create that in-person magic. And you can’t buy that on Amazon.
BijouxLu & Co.
I moved apartments in April and, as you can imagine, situating has been interesting (though it’s not lost on me that I’m lucky to still have my place and my job). So, it’s been about eight months and needless to say, I’m still reorganizing/decorating to “make this house a home.” It makes sense then that a gift I’m obsessed with this holiday season revolves around décor—particularly something functional and chic. And nothing says functional and chic like a unique floating shelf. I stumbled upon a few excellent ones (via Instagram) recently from BijouxLu & Co. and I can’t get enough. If you’re looking for an incredibly affordable piece of awesome handmade home decor that doubles as a storage spot for a coveted trinket, framed photo, or potted plant, look no further.
The Irish Design Shop, Kathryn Holeman Portraits, and Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
I always make a beeline for this cool and curated shop on Dublin’s Drury Street when I’m home and, because I haven’t been able to travel to Ireland at all this year, I am supporting them from afar and gifting some goodies from this mecca of Irish design. Some favorites include prints from Fergus O’Neill and Sally Caulwell, Caroline Dolan ceramics, hot water bottles, Irish holiday decorations, and cure-all gift boxes.
Closer to home, I have been ordering custom family portraits for Holiday cards from illustrator Kathryn Holeman. I’ve been doing this for several years now and they have become a treasured keepsake. Katie is a talented, New-Jersey-based artist (she illustrated some of our Inside Guides, too), and her watercolor portraits of babies, new homes, and puppies will be a beautiful reminder of the good things that happened this year. Her Tudor Coloring books are another soothing gift to color the bleak winter ahead.
Additionally, I came across the story of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse at the start of lockdown in March. I just loved how decisive and innovative they were to pivot to home baking kits as a way to stay in business and keep staff employed. So, I bought a bread-making kit, and then a cookie-making kit, and now I am gifting kits to all my friends for the holidays. Because learning how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie is not just a gift, it’s a gift!
Rebelle Cannabis Dispensary
Whether you’re well-versed in the world of cannabis or still completely green, Rebelle, a brand-new cannabis retail store in the quaint and versatile town of Great Barrington in the Berkshires, offers a bright, warm, and welcoming experience to all (as long as you’re 21-plus with an ID, that is). Many relate cannabis-shopping to something impersonal or seemingly illicit, but Rebelle has a charming boutique feel, with aesthetically pleasing cannabis accessories on well-lit displays, which the passionate, knowledgeable staff can guide you through. The cream and exposed-wood space could easily host clothing or even candy within its walls, but instead it stocks high-end cannabis products, including a range of edibles, vape pens, concentrates, and more, all with a local focus. The building’s exterior will also catch visitors’ eyes—a Lotus Belle tent meant as a sacred, relaxing space sits next to the farmhouse that houses the shop.
Rebelle also has a social justice mission to recruit a workforce from disproportionately impacted local communities like Pittsfield and North Adams, as well as an expungement fund that works to overturn low-level cannabis convictions in Massachusetts.
This holiday season the store will have a “Best Of” gift box available for sale on Black Friday. Even if you’re not a local, you can stop in at Rebelle as part of a weekend or day of hiking, dining, skiing, or imbibing in Berkshire county.
Kanibal & Co.
2020 might be making us all feel blah and possibly apathetic about holiday shopping, but one thing that might help is looking and shopping locally for gift inspiration. Located in downtown Jersey City, Kanibal & Co. stocks their shelves with locally-made and locally-sourced items—almost every item in the shop comes from Jersey City (or tri-state area) artists. Owned and curated by Jersey City-resident Kristen Scalia since 2009, inside you’ll find a little bit of everything: antique and handmade jewelry, animal dioramas, unique clothing, rehabbed furniture, bath products (soaps, hand cream, etc.), and candles including the New York-made Roland Pine line that will make you feel like you’re walking through a Catskill pine forest even if you can’t actually go outside. There’s also a great variety of Garden State- and Jersey City-themed items like ceramic mugs, t-shirts, and necklaces that are perfect for those ex-stats (people who are from a state, but no longer live there) as well as a charming annual collection titled “Animals of Jersey City” that features illustrations of local pets on postcards, postcards, and pint glasses.
This brick and mortar spot has hosted (and hopefully will host again) classes and workshops—everything from hand printing tea towels to making stationary or decoupaging decorative pumpkins—that are run by local artists with 100% of the proceeds going back to those artists. While the shop is currently open, if you don’t feel comfortable shopping in store (or can’t get there), Kanibal’s website is chock-a-block with all the same items, and Scalia has started a shop via DM service through their Instagram page, which she notes kept them alive during the lockdown. As a personalized touch, each package that goes out has a handwritten note to the recipient. Thoughtful touches like these are sure to spread the holiday cheer.
Goodies L.A. and Schimpff’s Confectionery
This vibrant yellow shop in Los Angeles’ Atwater Village has become a popular destination for those looking to spruce up their home on a budget. Goodies LA is, in their own words, “unique goods” all under $25. With everyone home more often than not, kitchenware and home goods will make for the perfect gift(s) this holiday season. So, whether you’re grabbing one of the shop’s stunning wooden bowls or an elegant marble jewelry holder or even a wooden ladder perfect for draping blankets, you really can’t go wrong. The shop recently opened a second location in Los Angeles’ Century City Mall, but no worries if you’re not an L.A. local—they ship!
And when I head back to Indiana for the holidays, Schimpff’s is my go-to shop for last-minute gifts. The historic soda and candy shop remains a popular place to grab sweet treats and seasonal favorites. The confectionery’s red hots are what draw you in—you can even watch them be made—but the large assortment of quality sweets is what keeps you coming back. Create a variety pack for your loved one with a sweet tooth or spice up a gift card by adding a favorite candy.
Two Little Red Hens
While Two Little Red Hens bakery in NYC always attracts crowds, it gets super busy during the holidays with lines out the door. It’s small but well-stocked with great cakes and treats to bring when you’re visiting with friends and relatives (well, maybe not so much this year but you get the idea). Some of the most popular cakes are the red velvet and classic yellow with chocolate frosting—though my personal favorite is the carrot cake with outrageously good cream cheese frosting. There are also cupcakes, fruit pies, and cheesecakes.
While chocolate should certainly be enjoyed year-round, there’s something about rich, dark, handmade chocolate that feels particularly emblematic of the holiday season. Marsatta Chocolates is a family-owned chocolate shop based in Torrance, California, that puts in the extra effort to make sure their chocolate is both high quality and sustainable. They work in small batches and frequently collaborate with other local businesses in Southern California. My mom first discovered Marsatta Chocolates at a local farmer’s market several years ago; since then, I’ve enjoyed every morsel of chocolate we’ve ever purchased from them. Their 100% cacao chocolate bars are my go-to fave; the chocolate is prepared with special European machinery that produces chocolate so flavorful and smooth that you won’t even realize there’s no added sugar. During my most recent visit, I tried their incredibly unique holiday special Cranberry and Gravy Bonbon—it was like an entire Thanksgiving dinner rolled up in the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. If you’re not in Southern California, no problem—they ship their delectable chocolates nationwide and to select international countries. Just make sure you snatch up any of their special edition treats before they’re gone!
WORD and Little City Books
Flora for Faunas
2020 has been a year where we’ve all needed a little extra physical coverage. Besides masks and gloves, social distancing keeps us from spreading and catching each other’s cooties. But what if you live in a densely populated place where social distancing is physically difficult or mask-wearing is optional? Maintain your need for space from within a beautiful, blossoming bubble. Flora For Faunas’ one-of-a-kind umbrellas and parasols will keep the weather at bay and prospective COVID-carriers from entering your personal space from under a gorgeous, playful canopy. Handcrafted with (silk) flowers, foliage, and all manner of greenery, these umbrellas can be made to withstand actual forces of nature (a “Rain Use Level” is noted for each creation) but are better used for shade, props, and of course, style. At this particular moment in time, we could all use a little beauty and whimsy just for the heck of it. Pop a moss-covered parasol or bouquet-brella of peonies over your shoulder and bring a little joy to your world.
Pearle Knits, Soleé Darrell Art, Guten Co., and VADA
This holiday season, I’m supporting my favorite women-run businesses, all the way from New York to Texas. Pearle Knits is a New York-based label by designer Michaela Pearle from Vancouver, Canada. Her work explores the traditional notions behind women and crafts, and plays into the nostalgia of handmade clothing. Each piece is size-inclusive and carefully crafted by hand on a knitting machine in New York City, featuring super-soft, stretchy cotton yarn sourced from a mill in Quebec, Canada, and the U.K.
And on the other side of the country, there is Soleé Darrell, a Bermudian-born multidisciplinary artist who is based in Oakland, California. Her background is in metalsmithing but, more recently, she has taken up painting as her new medium of choice, using her paintings as a guide driven by her intuition. Each piece is unique in structure and medium, drawing attention to her use of broad strokes of colors and gradients, three-dimensional textures, and additional fabrications to create a one-of-a-kind statement piece to adorn your walls.
Farther south, in San Antonio, Texas there’s Guten Co., owned and created by Sarah Sauer. After studying under a range of craftsmen, Sauer started her company as a design workshop aimed to produce high-quality, minimalist products that work and last. With a variety of products ranging from mezcal copitas to planters, each porcelain and press printed product is formed, printed, and finished by hand in her studio in San Antonio.
And, lastly, there’s VADA. Katie Caplener is the founder of this fine jewelry and eyewear brand based in Austin, Texas. The fine jewelry line is hand-crafted utilizing ancient artisanal techniques using recycled materials and post-consumer diamonds wherever possible. VADA sources conflict-free materials to create modern and heirloom pieces. VADA’s eyewear line is handmade in small batches in Japan and features gemstone-inspired shapes, gold-tone details, and rivets designed to hold VADA’s gold chain retainers, allowing you to easily pair her eyewear and jewelry together.