This post is not sponsored in any way – all opinions and recommendations are my own.
Supporting local small businesses is always important, but especially now. If one thing has been made clear in 2020, it is the importance of caring about your neighbours and supporting your local community. A key way to foster community resiliency is to buy from local small businesses (especially BIPOC-owned) whenever we can.
We are shopping online now more than ever. This holiday season, avoid major online retailers and focus instead on quality over quantity from small businesses. Remember that these businesses are not able to absorb losses in the same way (i.e. there is no such thing as “free shipping”) and prices are most likely reflective of the true cost of an item or service. Buy less, but better!
Why Buy From a Small Business?
When you buy from a local small business, you keep money in your community rather than making large corporations even richer. You are more likely to get great service from the owner themselves, and can chat with them about their mission and values. Local businesses tend to stock high quality products made by other local folks as well, so products have a lower overall carbon footprint. Many small businesses can also do custom orders, gift boxes, even wrapping and delivery. Small business owners are an investment in the local community – there are so many people doing cool things! Money is tight for a lot of us, but there are free ways to support local businesses too – follow their social pages, like and share their posts, or write a review about their great service and product selections. If you have privilege (be it financial, temporal, or location-based) use it to support local business wherever and whenever possible for you. Do what works best for your budget and circumstances.
In addition to great products, many businesses offer gift cards that can be sent and used online. Not only does this let your loved one choose a gift that suits them best, but it creates revenue for the business during these times of restrictions and in-person closures. A gift card to a local place in an excellent gift for out of town friends and family to jumpstart or support their sustainable lifestyle. Also consider gifting things like services, restaurants, bakeries, lessons, etc. Spend some time asking folks what they are into right now and search for something local to them that fits the bill.
The holiday season presents a challenge when shifting to a low waste lifestyle with kids. Older children in particular have developed expectations about receiving gifts and are around peers with different experiences. Now is a good time to model giving eco-friendly gifts with intention and showing that the meaning of gifts can (and should) go beyond the physical item.
Small Business Holiday Gift Guide
Here are some great local businesses (most are BIPOC and/or woman-owned and operated) that I personally patronize and love. Click the shop titles to check out their offerings and be sure to follow them on social media! Use the guide below for your shopping list or as a springboard for ideas in your area.
Replenish General Store, located in Aurora Ontario, is a return to the community general store with a fresh twist. Here you can find refills on eco-friendly personal care products, cleaning supplies, detergents, oils, vinegars, tea…the list goes on! They also carry a wide range of carefully selected locally made products from home goods to hot sauce. Co-founders Bianca and Thai put so much thought and effort into being a key part of the local community in everything they do. Local delivery, international shipping, gift cards, and custom gift boxes available!
The Modern Monstera is a plant styling service by Cheryl Li of Aurora Ontario. If someone in your life loves plants but can kill a cactus, this is the perfect gift! In addition to helping you choose appropriate plants to elevate your space with, Cheryl offers consultations, installation, maintenance and troubleshooting, as well as workshops on things like macramé hangers and terrariums. Her knowledge and passion for plants will deck the halls for any plant parent on your list.
Earth Market, located in Newmarket Ontario, just celebrated its brick and mortar grand opening! Founder Jaime Upiter is dedicated to providing the community with socially responsible solutions to everyday purchases, with an emphasis on local and Canadian goods. Products range from refills on personal care and household items, to eco-lifestyle goods, grocery, and bulk. Local delivery and shipping within Canada available.
Metropolis, located on historic Main Street in Newmarket Ontario, is a really cool spot with a great atmosphere and a commitment to sustainability by Karla Wilson. The café features amazing coffee, tea, speciality drinks, and baked goods. Browsing the shop you’ll find local artisan lifestyle items, jewellery, accessories, unique gifts, apparel, vintage furniture, and home goods. An extensive online shop and gift cards are available, with local delivery and shipping throughout Canada.
Evergreen and Mustard, out of Newmarket Ontario, makes reusable face masks and pouches for snacks, personal care items, straws, etc. Pouches are machine washable and made with a 100% cotton exterior and a ProCare® waterproof lining interior. Our family have several of her masks in rotation. Maker Bev Peel sources cool patterns that will suit anyone on your shopping list, from kids to adults. Throughout 2020, a portion of each sale has been donated to Southlake Hospital’s COVID-19 Action Fund. Local porch pickup and shipping to Canada and the US available.
Eralume is made by Emily Jones in Barrie Ontario. Everything she makes is carefully considered for sustainability from start to finish. Products range from pregnancy and postpartum care, baby and kids, self-care and wellness, as well as home and cleaning products. We love the Stress Relief spray and Chest Rub! Emily takes great care to test and develop safe formulations from high quality plant-derived ingredients. A portion of earnings are donated to BIPOC organizations in Canada. Visit the shop website for local stockists or shipping options.
Izzy’s Imperfect Items, out of Guelph Ontario, makes unique lifestyle, home, and beauty items from repurposed materials. Starting with scrunchies, founder and owner Isabel Savransky has expanded to cutlery rolls, cloth napkins, reusable face masks, and holiday stockings. I absolutely love my cutlery roll and keep it handy on road trips. Shipping available within Canada and the US. Contact for information on local stockists.
Happy Beet out of Cobourg ON, makes reusable lifestyle items out of upcycled cotton fabric with the intention of reducing single-use waste and repurposing textiles. Maker María López creates beautiful, high quality, produce bags, napkins, face cloths and masks. You can find María at the Cobourg Farmers Market or shop her small batch goods in her online shop. Check out her site for a stockist near you. Local porch pickup and shipping within Canada available.
Charcoal and Rose Petals makes small batch, handmade personal care products in Kawartha Lakes Ontario. Owner SarahAnn Goldmau-Vogt puts great care into creating high quality and all natural products in sustainable and reusable packaging. Our family only uses her soaps and the sugar scrub is the best I have ever used! Check out her shop for soaps, face and body lotions, shaving and beard care, and mother and baby gifts. Shipping available within Canada and the continental US.
Sustain Eco Store has locations in both Peterborough and Huntsville Ontario. Founded in 2009 by Jonathan and Celine MacKay, Sustain offers everything you could possibly think of! From home improvement, to cleaning, lifestyle, wellness, bulk, refills, child and baby care as well as wonderful educational books and learning aids. Sustain demonstrates a deep care and commitment to community, continuing education, and making eco-friendly living accessible. Visit either location in person for the full experience or check out their extensive online shop. International shipping available.
Do you plan to shop small this holiday season?
Shout out your favourite local spots in the comments!