black friday

Supporting Small Businesses (And Not Amazon) This Holiday Season

As with all things in 2020, this holiday season is going to look quite a bit different this year.

The presents you might usually wrap under the tree don’t seem to make sense right now.

Our mini Christmas tree a few years back.

A cashmere sweater? Mary doesn’t leave the house and exclusively wears sweatpants.

New shoes? Bob hasn’t been to the office in months.

A nice pair of earrings? The last thing Wendy dressed up for was the dentist.

This is all coupled with the fact that we probably aren’t going to be seeing all of our family members and loved ones this holiday season. I know our Thanksgiving and Christmas will just be my immediate family.

So maybe you will be buying fewer presents because you will be seeing fewer people, or instead you want to spread a little more holiday joy because you won’t be seeing loved ones. Either way, you have a choice in where those gifts come from and who your purchases support.

Your dollars count.

While I used to love Black Friday (when it actually meant shopping in store), I have since changed my tune. Unless you are buying a TV, the deals are usually not as great as you think. Instead participate in Small Business Saturday on November 28th or better yet, shop small all holiday season!

I still haven’t gone shopping in a retail store since March, which automatically punts all my holiday shopping to the internet. Not my favorite, but it will have to do this year.

The good news is that there are still so many ways to do your holiday shopping without leaning solely on the big box stores and Amazon***. Our local and small businesses are in dire need of our help anyway due to the pandemic, so the best way to finish off your holiday shopping is by supporting them.

***Full disclosure: While I am hating on Amazon here, we do have an Amazon Prime account that we use occasionally. We have a baby and sometimes 2 day or same day shipping is super necessary when you run out of diaper rash cream.

Here are a couple ways to shop small this season:

Local Businesses

Cute, small mom and pop stores have lost the walk-in customers they used to rely on. I plan to order some gifts from some of my favorites for curbside pickups this year.

In Chicago, here are some of my top shops for the following:

Etsy

I love Etsy all year round, but I am definitely shopping here this holiday season. One of my favorite features is being able to filter by shops in the United States, and then even by state and city. It is fun to discover local, nearby shops that don’t have a brick and mortar location.

Etsy is a great option when you are looking for something specific!

Local Restaurants

I am sure you have heard or experienced in your hometown, the intense impact the pandemic has had on restaurants and bars. Pick your favorite place around the corner or down the block and purchase a gift card for those on your list. High on our list is Lucia’s!

While in some cities and states you cannot eat inside a restaurant, your recipient can still use it for a special takeout dinner or save it until they are comfortable and able to dine inside again. Something to look forward to, I suppose?

Additionally, everyone loves a good baked good or a special treat on a Sunday morning. Our favorite local bakeries to support are Floriole, Spinning J, Bennison’s, and Dinkel’s.

Experiences

The gift of an experience is one of my favorite to give. A sports game, tickets to a musical, a membership to a museum or zoo are my usual choices, but this year some experience gifts are not an option.

Not all are cancelled though! The zoos and aquarium here are still open, but operate on a reservation basis and there are plenty of virtual workshops and classes out there.

Virtual Maker Events

Often, I would check off unique, handmade gifts for my recipients from craft fairs, like the one sponsored by my high school to raise money for the athletic boosters, to the more upscale artesian maker shows downtown and throughout the city.

Made in Chicago Market

My personal favorite, the One of a Kind Show, is going virtual this year and you can still shop all of the vendors, but unfortunately miss the great interaction with the artists.

Two other shows that I have shopped at in the past are Show of Hands and Made in Chicago Market. They are online too.

So while the fun of wandering past booths and eyeing items across the room is out for this year, we can still shop!

That’s it! If you are a family member reading this, you got a sneak peak, because you will definitely be getting something from this list!

Black Friday, I’ll Pass

I used to like Black Friday.

That was back when the deals were only available at early hours on the Friday after Thanksgiving. That is when you marveled at hearing about someone go to the mall at 4:30 AM. My mom and I would go sometimes, but never for those obnoxiously early doorbusters.

As the years have gone by, Black Friday and the idea of turning Thanksgiving and the surrounding days into a mass over-consumption mess┬áhas snowballed out of control. Who needs Black Friday when you can get Black Friday all week or even all month long!? Don’t forget Cyber Monday! And the fact that stores are open on Thanksgiving just so people can continue to consume products they most likely don’t even need!

Of course, that <insert literally any type of purchase here> sounds enticing because it is advertised as 50% off, or buy one and get one free, but do you really need those things, though?

Now that Black Friday has escalated into this “crazy-must-buy-all-of-the-things” extended period of time, I am no longer interested.

So I won’t be doing any shopping come Friday.

I do plan on joining REI in their effort to #OptOutside, then I will come inside and warm up with family and Thanksgiving leftovers. Sounds perfect (and free) to me.

rei-optoutside