Avoid parking lots and shopping malls for Black Friday and beyond. Instead, preserve your mental and physical health by shopping small and contributing to your local economy for the holidays this year.
In addition to improving your overall health, shopping locally ensures that nearly 70 cents on every dollar remains in the local economy. When you shop small, you help to build a better local economy, reduce environmental impact, put your taxes to good use, create jobs, get better customer service, keep the community unique, and you encourage local prosperity. Whew — that’s a lot of good!
The last two years I wrote guides to shopping local during the holiday season. I still recommend all of those places, but decided to write an updated list for 2017. With the holidays just around the corner, I think it’s appropriate to share some of my favorite local businesses and gift ideas just in time for Small Business Saturday,* as well as encourage everyone to #ShopSmall on November 25 and always.
Gifts and Retail
In addition to its OTR location, the Columbus-based retro and vintage sports clothier, HOMAGE, now calls Liberty Center home. HOMAGE always has great deals after the holiday, so keep your eye out to support local for Small Business Saturday.
King Arthur’s Court Toys, The Spotted Goose, and Blue Manatee make up “Kid Row” in Oakley, which is a stretch of local stores featuring games and toys, clothes and accessories, and books (respectively). Have a little one to shop for this holiday season? Grab some coffee from neighboring Deeper Roots then shop local on Kid Row.
If you’ve got any music lovers in your life, treat them to analog tunes courtesy of Everybody’s Records and Shake It Records. For home decor, visit Elm & Iron and High Street. If you have a loved one with a green thumb, consider the gift of classes from Fern.
Some of my favorite places to peruse gifts in the area are MiCA 12/v, a local art, fine craft, and design-based gift shop in OTR, and Hello Handzy Shop + Studio, a gift shop and design studio located in Covington. Additional apparel and gift shops include The Candle Lab, Cincy Shirts, Corporate, Headlines Apparel, Hi-Bred, Koch Sporting Goods, Manitou Candle Co., Rivertown Inkery, Ten Thousand Villages, and many more. I also recommend following Your Friends and Neighbors on Facebook to hear about their next pop-up shop.
Arts and Crafts Fairs
Cincinnati’s famed urban flea market makes its Holiday Market reprise on Saturday, December 16. Patronize local and regional vendors and local food trucks at Washington Park’s next edition of The City Flea.
Additional outstanding arts and crafts fairs are Crafty Supermarket, which will take place on December 2 in the Music Hall Ballroom (featuring 90+ makers — 45% of vendors are from Cincinnati, while 62% are Ohio-based), as well as Ohio Explored’s Holiday Maker Mart at Urban Artifact, taking place on December 3, and featuring 100+ Ohio makers.
More area craft shows and various flea markets an be found here.
If you’re looking to give the gift of local art, ideas include Art on Vine, Rookwood Pottery, James Billiter (his work can be found at The City Flea and various shops in greater Cincinnati), or a gift certificate to Cheers to Art.
Fabulous Frames & Art is not only the world’s largest Charley Harper dealer, it also features custom framing and Rookwood and Cincinnati gifts. Visit one of their four Cincinnati locations to see their goods.
Our four-legged friends are family and, thus, we like to spoil them as such. I recommend doing so at Argos All-Natural Pet Food and Supply, Findlay Market, or by finding your neighborhood Pet Wants. For a complete list of community vendors where Brewhaus Dog Bones are sold, click here.
Give Experiences, Not Things
Give the gift of wonder from the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Entertrainment Junction, Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, or Kings Island.
For the 21+ crowd, consider giving a Craft Connection, Cincy Brew Bus, Brewing Heritage Trail, or an American Legacy Tours tour; creating a six pack Higher Gravity or Root Cellar; picking up a hard-to-find bomber from Cappy’s; or attending a beer or wine tasting at Jungle Jim’s Market or Marty’s Hops and Vines.
Check out one of Cincinnati’s excellent museums in the Cincinnati Museum Center, Contemporary Arts Center, Taft Museum of Art, National Underground Railround and Freedom Center, Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati, Harriet Beecher Stowe House, The Betts House, Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati Observatory, or give a membership for a loved one to the American Sign Museum. (General admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum, 21c Museum Hotel, Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, and the William Howard Taft National Historic Site is free.)
Celebrate Cincinnati’s robust arts scene with a show at the Aronoff Center, Know Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati POPS Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, or Cincinnati Opera.
Let the CB Connector or Red Bike connect your trip to shops, restaurants, parks, and drinkeries when you spend time in the urban core this holiday season.
Disclaimer: this is only a short list ideas for shopping local this year, and is hardly a dent in every option in the city. Get out and explore, and contribute to our local economy!
*Small Business Saturday is an initiative to shop small and to support local businesses. In fact,“For every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $73 remains in the local economy.” I am a huge proponent for shopping locally, so if you’re looking for ideas regarding where to patronize this holiday season, this list is for you!
Images in header [left to right, top to bottom]: American Sign Museum, Findlay Market, The Candle Lab, Cincinnati Museum Center, The City Flea, HOMAGE, lagering tunnel in the brewery district, Aronoff Center, Music Hall, Crafty Supermarket, Tour de Cincinnati Beer shirt (coming soon), King’s Island