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!
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 24 and always.
Gifts and Retail
Can’t decide what you want to give, but want to provide a number of local options? Check out the Downtown Cincinnati Gift Card, which features dozens of participating restaurants, drinkeries, shops, markets, hotels, experiences, museums, and more. Click here to buy yours and to see a complete list of participating merchants!
In addition to its OTR location, the Columbus-based retro and vintage sports clothier, HOMAGE, also 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. Or you can head just a few miles north to The Red Balloon Café + Play, a cafe and playroom in Pleasant Ridge where you can purchase natural family goods, classes, gift cards, and schedule private events.
If you’ve got any music lovers in your life, treat them to analog tunes courtesy of Everybody’s Records, Plaid Room Records, Shake It Records. For home decor, visit Elm & Iron and High Street. If you have a loved one with a green thumb, consider a plant from The Budding Florist or 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 Handzy Shop + Studio, a gift shop and design studio located in Covington. Additional apparel and gift shops include The Candle Lab, Cincy Shirts, Corporate, Hi-Bred, Koch Sporting Goods, Manitou Candle Co., Queen City Alchemy, Rivertown Inkery, and many more.
For the readers, buy a book written by a local author from Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Additional favorites include SENATE: Street & Savory, a cookbook by local chef, Daniel Wright, The Cincinnati Anthology, edited by Zan McQuade, and Walking Cincinnati, a guide to urban hikes in many of Cincinnati’s historic neighborhoods. For any Queen City lovers in your life, a subscription to Cincinnati Magazine is an excellent option.
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 1 in the Music Hall Ballroom (featuring 100+ makers—local and regional), as well as Ohio Explored’s Holiday Maker Mart at Urban Artifact, which has been expanded to two days this year (December 8–9), and features 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, wooden hill, 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, Fuzzybutts Dry Goods, 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, Kings Island, or Madcap Education Center.
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, Red Bike, or an electric scooter connect your trip to shops, restaurants, parks, and drinkeries when you spend time in the urban core!
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!