Bye-bye, Black Friday. I’m a Small Business Saturday shopper.
I’d rather give my money to the mom-and-pop shops and indie startups and bypass the big box store drama and fight-to-the-death frenzy that have become holiday shopping. It’s a treasure hunt walking around boutiques like Urban Provisions in the Northeast area. I always discover something new and just right for the special people in my life.
And what I like most is that a lot of these business owners will tell you about other indie brands. It was Westside Storey’s Chris Harrington who introduced me to Jennifer Janesko’s KS/MO necklace ($75) with interlocking charms in the shape of both states. Emily and Matt Baldwin suggest Retro Inferno for mod vintage finds. There’s a real community among our local entrepreneurs.
Monday, while picking up some Zum & Be Merry candles at Indigo Wild in midtown, I was talking to Leslie McGuire, the company’s self-described “marketing chick.” She put me on to her favorite place to gift shop: Bijin Spa in Prairie Village. “On top of the spa services, there is a huge retail shop with cool jewelry, mittens, nail polishes and funky and cool gifts you might not see anywhere else,” she says.
The must-buy? “They have really cool scarves,” she says, pointing out that the staff at Indigo Wild are big fans. “We all have one.” Consider my curiosity properly piqued.
I talked to some of my favorite local business owners to find out their favorite local holiday buys, and they shared big ways to #ShopSmall this season:
Sisters Allison Loftus and Amy Sullivan run VelvetCrate, the delivery service that curates fun gift boxes with indie finds. They have a Holiday crate, but I’m checking out the new For Him crate ($68, shipped) featuring Sock 101, Jack Black shave lather, Dave’s coffee and Liddabit Sweets Bourbon Bacon Caramel Corn Popcorn.
Where do they shop in the city? Amy says they have a lot of local faves, like the Roasterie coffees and Christopher Elbow chocolates. But both ladies are big dog lovers.
“We have three rescue dogs between us,” Amy says. “We are very big on shelter dogs. We don’t buy dogs. But we do like the selection of collars at Land of Paws. There is so much variety in the colors and options that reflect the city” (as well as KU, Mizzou, K-State). Her pick this year is a Royals collar ($20-$24). In this crowned city? That sounds perfect.
Do some good
Christina Eldridge is all about the gifts that do good as founder of Red Dirt Shop, an accessories company that raises money to provide clean water in impoverished areas. I’m a fan of the Red Dirt iPhone cases ($32) designed by local artists including Dan Padavic and Ocean & Sea. Christina says her favorite Kansas City small business buys are online, such as the Acts of Good Journal (actsofgood.com).
“The journal was conceived, designed and self-published by KC do-gooder Adam Benton,” she says. “He lives a life of faith and gratitude, and this journal helps others do the same. So if you want to show gratitude for someone, you do an act of good for them, write down why and then give that person the journal.
“Then it’s their turn to do for someone else when a time arises, and pass the journal on again. This happens 12 times! Participants can follow the journey and stories online.
“Then when all 12 acts of good are completed, the journal is mailed back to you to keep, as a reminder of how one good deed leads to another. This is what the world needs more of.”
Crystal K. Wiebe is the woman behind the beer-inspired dog goodies of Kansas City’s Beer Paws (my pups love her Beer Biscuits, $5.95). She likes to give the gift of beauty, especially at Milagro Midwestern Spa in downtown Overland Park.
“They have the most unique assortment of products, from handmade lotions and stuff to really fun cards and art prints.” Her gift pick: anything from Milagro’s Maker Counter, where you can get custom-made skin care, like the beard oil Crystal gifted last Christmas. Prices range from $3 to $30.
Back to nature
Scribe and Alisa Ross are one of Kansas City’s most creative couples. He is known for his vibrant murals and graphics. She is known for her quirky plush. Characters we’ve seen on buildings around the city are on prints, mugs ($15) and toys now. (I’m about the Party Walrus, $30.)
They often shop at the Oracle in the Crossroads, which features framed insects, interesting taxidermy and all sorts of eccentricities. And that’s how Alisa likes it. “It’s a place where you can come face-to-face with all the curious personalities of creatures you’ve never met,” she says.
Her gift of choice: The crystals, for their brilliance, uniqueness and pure natural beauty. Oracle carries a variety of stones, such as amethyst and rose quartz, plus bundles ($10) for healing and meditation.
Online: oraclekc.com and scribeswalk.com. Catch Scribe, Alisa and other local artists at the MADE — Kansas City Artist Market pop-up shop Dec. 11-12 at Counter Point Event Space, 1903 Wyandotte St. (facebook.com/madeartkc)
Keep it classic
Brooks Proctor owns Square Bear streetwear with Asheley Nicole. Janelle Monae has been sighted in the Square Bear varsity jacket ($75), so I’d say that makes it a holiday hot ticket. The KC business partners live in California, but they still shop local.
Brooks’ favorite boutique has long been Standard Style on the Plaza and in Leawood, owned by KC’s favorite fashion couple, Emily and Matt Baldwin. “It’s classic. I like the look of the store. The people and the quality of it all is unmatched. There’s brands you can find there, you can’t find anywhere else.
“And there’s Baldwin, too. When it comes to gifts, I go with the all-black KC hat by Baldwin ($48). It’s not your everyday ball cap, and it says home all the way around.”