Guide to Great Local Holiday Shopping – Small business information, insight and resources | Thu, 14 Feb 2019 18:32:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 157446745 Great Places to Shop Local for the Holidays in New York City | 2016 Tue, 13 Dec 2016 16:45:32 +0000  

While New York City is America’s biggest metropolis, it’s a big city filled with small shops; so many that we chose it for our first two “Great Places to Shop Local for the Holidays of 2016.” The following small businesses represent tens of thousands more stores, shops, and eateries  you’ll find all across the city’s five boroughs.

A special thank-you shout-out also to some New York-based employees of the small business online lender Bond Street for suggesting this list of some of their favorite (and unique) shops. If you’d like to send in a list of ten or fewer #shoplocal small businesses in your town, email us at:

The Hella Cocktail Co.

On the web |
In their own words | “Hella Cocktail Co. is a New York City-based cocktail company that produces a line of non-alcoholic mixers, syrups, mixers, and bitters. We are pleased to offer a variety of handcrafted goods that raise the bar on your everyday imbibing and culinary experience. All of our products are designed with the utmost care to be premium, user-friendly and appealing to a broad audience. They allow anyone from the passionate bartender to the home chef to create delicious cocktails at home with ease. Made in small batches, our cocktail line offer you premium alternative to all that mass-produced stuff out there. Founded in Brooklyn and now thriving in NYC, our passion for quality has been there since the beginning and it’s how we went from being a weekend project to a company in serious pursuit of the delicious.”

CW Pencil Enterprise

On the web |
In their own words | “CW Pencil Enterprise of New York City was founded in November 2014 by Caroline Weaver, amateur pencil collector but lifelong pencil lover. What we’re trying to do is dig up the stories and origins of these objects and make them accessible to those who appreciate them for their functionality, beauty and history as much as we do. As simple as it may be, the pencil is something which despite advances in technology will never become obsolete. Whatever you may use them for, we want to make sure that you can have any pencil your heart, hand, or collection desires.”

Erica Weiner

On the web |
In their own words | “Erica taught herself to make jewelry in the mid-2000s, while bouncing between jobs in the arts, fashion, and theatrical costuming. Combining tiny collected objects with vintage charms and chain, she quickly developed a fan following and hired her friend, Lindsay, to help keep up with growing orders. The pair soon decided to open a retail shop in downtown Manhattan, where they incorporated a small collection of inexpensive antique jewelry, too.”


On the web |
In their own words | “Noah is an American-based retailer of men’s clothing, focused mainly on upmarket multi-utilitarian attire and embellishments. Established by Brendon Babenzien in New York in 2015, Noah is cross-generational bridging youth culture and classic culture. Our name was born out of a deep reverence for the aquatic sphere, while at the same time, serving as a nod to the last of the pre-flood Patriarchs. Our motif is derived from the iconic Knights Templar cross, which not only connects the brand to its maritime roots but further exemplifies Noah’s commitment to and belief in the virtue of the outlaw.”


On the web |
In their own words | “Set in a 2000 square foot store located in Manhattan’s 10th Ave. retail corridor, STORY is a retail concept that takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store. That means every four to eight weeks, STORY completely reinvents itself -from the design to the merchandise – with the goal of bringing to light a new theme, trend or issue.”

Nalata Nalata

On the web |
In their own words | “Nalata Nalata is a retail experience founded on promoting awareness of the people and stories behind our curated lifestyle products.”

Turntable Lab

On the web |
In their own words | “ Turntable Lab (“TTL” or “The Lab” as we’re known to our customers) was established in 1999 by Anthony Cattarina, Jasper Goggins, and Peter Hahn in Peter’s college apartment. The trio formed the idea for the Lab based on numerous negative experiences at stores that sold dj equipment: both big musical instrument chains and shady Canal Street stereo stores. Turned off by haggling, uninformed salesmen, and questionable product, Turntable Lab built its business on fair pricing, informed reviews, and a well-researched selection of “Lab approved” items (aka The Formula). Most of the Lab’s employees are working DJs / producers / musicians, which helps to ensure this high standard.”

John Derian Company

On the web|
In their own words | “John Derian Company Inc. was established in 1989. John’s decoupage plates, platters, paperweights, coasters, and bowls are handmade in his studio in New York City, where he employs a small staff of artisans to assist with production. His designs are sold at upscale home stores, in catalogs, and gift shops worldwide. The full range of John Derian pieces, including his ephemera and furniture line, is available at his own retail shops in the East Village where he also carries vintage and antique imports, bed and table linens, stationery, plate-ware, vintage and new lighting, and an ever-changing assortment of one-of-a-kind curios.”


On the web |
In their own words | “Domus (the latin word for home) is a home-decor and gift store that opened in 2002 in Hell’s Kitchen, in the heart of New York City. We are passionate about decor and believe that your home should tell your story, your unique interpretation of life. Embracing difference, seeking out the unusual, and excited by different cultures, we travel the world in search of hand-crafted goods that show the individual mark of the artisans who made them. We are proud of the relationships we have built and maintained, of the distance we go to find unusual products, and also of paying what the artisans ask rather than imposing a low wage which would devalue their work.”

Purl Soho

On the web |
In their own words | “Purl Soho is a beloved resource for needlecrafters of every ilk, from knitters and crocheters to quilters and embroiderers. Since 2002, we have been sharing our passion for beauty and exceptional design, for natural fibers and crafting traditions.”

Flower Power

On the web |
In their own words | “We are an extraordinary retail store, an indispensable resource to superlative organically cultivated herbs, roots, flowers, leaves, and seeds.”

American Two Shot

On the web |
In their own words | “Retail gets a shot in the arm at this whitewashed SoHo gallery/shop/coffee bar that’s more than just another chill concept shop for the fashion-forward tribe.”

Thanks |  Bond Street


Great Places to Shop Local for the Holidays in Nashville | 2015 Tue, 08 Dec 2015 13:47:01 +0000

In addition to being the capital of Tennessee and the home of country music, Nashville is also the home of Here’s another little-known fact: Nashville is the U.S. city that most reflects the demographics of the entire country, according to With such an insightful (or perhaps, just “average”) test market right outside our door, we decided to spend a Saturday morning visiting some “made in Nashville” product makers and artisans to find out what’s popular these days in the microcosm of America: Nashville, Tennessee.

East Nashville Spice Company

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On the web:

In their own words: “East Nashville Spice Company is a purveyor of eclectic and wonderfully versatile spice blends containing no artificial flavors, colors or anti-caking agents. Our premier spice blend & rub, the delicious ‘ORIGINAL’ (a.k.a ‘37206 Mix’) is an exciting all-purpose seasoning blend of 15 different herbs and spices combined and handcrafted right here in Music City. We’ve traveled the world & tasted the very best spices from Italy to Egypt, Turkey to Israel, Greece and beyond. The result of these travels is this versatile all-in-one seasoning. It goes brilliantly on everything—poultry, seafood, beef, pork, veggies, stews & soups, deviled eggs, coleslaw, potato, egg, pasta, tuna & chicken salads, even scrambled eggs. It also makes a wonderful salad dressing and takes your grilled foods to the next level. It harmonizes beautifully with your favorite foods to make all your recipes sing with flavor!”

Nicholettos Pasta Company

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On the web:

In their own words: “We’re two Italian brothers, Ryan and Danny Nicoletto, obsessed with quality. Our pasta is made from a variety of select grains from North America in small batches (often 30 lbs. or less). We love pasta. Fresh pasta, dried pasta, you name it. We love it so much that we founded Nicoletto’s Pasta Co. to handcraft small-batch pasta in fresh and dried varieties using traditional pasta making techniques. Nicoletto’s pasta is bronze cut, slowly dried, and packaged in Nashville.”

Whistle Punk Mens Grooming Company

whistle punk

On the web:

In their own words: “The Whistle Punk Mens Grooming story began with the idea that men care about what is in the stuff they put on their face and body. Too many of the grooming products out there do more than just keep us looking good, and it ain’t always pretty. The harsh chemicals in many shaving creams, beard oils, pomades and other products actually damage our skin. We just wanted to be dangerously handsome without killing ourselves with chemicals like isopropyl, diethanolamine, monoethanolamine, pthalates and synthetic fragrances. So in 2014 we began making our own products in our kitchen in Nashville, Tennessee and Whistle Punk Mens Grooming Co was born. We make premium quality grooming products in small batches with organic and all-natural ingredients. We named the company Whistle Punk Mens Grooming Co as a nod the dangerously handsome lumberjacks of the golden age of logging. The living conditions were primitive, and the low-paying work was difficult, dangerous, and intermittent, but these men built a culture that celebrated strength, masculinity, confrontation with danger, and resistance to modernization.”

Nola Granola

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On the web:

In their own words: “We believe that snacking can move beyond dull flavors and highly processed ingredients to an event that engages all the senses. Before tossing back Nola Granola, pause for a bit to notice the visual impact of the abundant ingredients. Breathe in the notes of cinnamon and spice and other aromas that delight the nose. Relax into the experience of the unique chewy bits with just the right amount of crunch. Savor the complex flavors resulting from an unhurried, multi-step preparation process. Experience why we believe Nola Granola is the last granola you’ll ever want to eat.”

Salemtown Board Company


On the web:

In their own words: We started as two guys in Nashville with $300 who wanted to build skateboards and see the world outside our front-doors change, even if just a little bit. A couple years later, we’re Will (big brother/dreamer), Schuyler (younger brother/practical guy)* and a small crew of young bucks from the neighborhood. We are striving to do our part in changing our city by creating jobs for young men who need them here in Salemtown. Our calendars are marked by trips to the mountains. The rest of the time we’re covered in sawdust and paint. We build boards we love to ride and design clothing we wear almost everyday. Our hope is that our boards have a place in all your best weekend adventures and favorite memories. We love what we do and Salemtown is our way of bringing you a piece of that. From us to you, grab a board and ride until you’re lost.”

*Schuyler is the brother in the photo.

Needle & Grain

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On the web:

In their own words: “We’re Bryson and Susan Leach. Together, we created our small woodcraft and sewing studio focused on exploring and preserving the traditional art of making things by hand. Starting with his grandparents, Bryson comes from a family of tinkerers and builders. Encouraged from childhood to make and build, his love for craft hasn’t quit. His interests span from silkscreening and custom lighting to block printing and woodcraft. Coming from a similar line of makers, Susan has carried on the family tradition of sewing by stoking the fires of quilt making. With a mission to revive the fading art, Susan has poured her heart into every block and stitch to craft modern and traditional blankets, quilts and home goods. Nestled in the heart of historic Downtown Franklin you’ll find Susan and Bryson burning the midnight oil at their tiny home and leaky, antique garage. Together they work to promote the joys of hard work and family by creating quality products, uncommonly friendly service and wholehearted integrity. If you’re looking for a modern heirloom for your family, Needle & Grain would be so honored and happy to make it for you.”


Mitchell Bat Company

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On the web:

In their own words: (From an interview withMitchell Bat Company’s Jeremy Mitchell by Sports Illustrated editor Dom Bonvissuto, Jeans & Ties) Mitchell, 35, pours his enthusiasm for the national pastime into Mitchell Bat Company, where he sells hand-painted odes to the game he adores. His bats are blowing up. included them in its holiday gift guide. Ebbets, the king of baseball cool, sells them in its flagship store in Seattle. And a national clothing retailer recently reached out and wants to put them in its soon-to-open store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.”


Eli Mason


On the web:

In their own words: “Eli Mason is here to help you ‘Reclaim Your Happy Hour’ and mix the best drinks with ease and consistency. Eli Mason makes small batch, spirit-forward cocktail mixers here in Nashville. While our Spirit Forward mentality is best seen in the company’s handmade mixers, it is also a mission that extends beyond the product itself. It’s not just about mixers that highlight (never mask) your liquor’s unique personality; living Spirit Forward is about exploring and embracing the world with open arms. We were the first to offer a premium Old Fashioned cocktail mixer and soon expanded our line with a fresh and versatile Mint Julep syrup, which is made with pounds and pounds of fresh mint. If you like to build sophisticated drinks from scratch, we also provide four ‘Bar Basics’ including Classic Grenadine, Gomme Syrup, Demerara Syrup, and Rich Simple Syrup. All of our mixers feature only the finest ingredients like pure cane sugar, fresh mint, and organic gum arabic. But we’re not just for cocktails! These mixers can also be your secret ingredient in dressings, marinades, desserts, and spectacular non-alcoholic drinks. Whether it’s your bartender in a bottle or favorite cooking companion, Eli Mason has perfected a variety of handmade flavors to fit your Spirit Forward lifestyle.”

Nashville Biketown Tee-Shirt

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In his own words: You can find this t-shirt at most of Nashville’s best local bike shops. And while this isn’t in the words of the designer of the shirt, it’s in the words of’s head helper who commutes by bike to work a few days each week and thinks this t-shirt is awesome.


Do you have suggestions for more independently-owned shops in Nashville that are great for holiday shopping? Or, would you like to create a list like this for your hometown? (Be sure to check the list at the top of the page to see what other cities we’ve featured.) If so, contact us at with your ideas. We’ll give you a shout-out link if we use your suggestion.

Great Places to Shop Local for the Holidays in Washington, DC | 2015 Thu, 03 Dec 2015 14:23:11 +0000

Many people only know Washington, D.C., as the destination on a high school field trip or family vacation. Or maybe you only think of the city when you see it on the news. It may be a bit of a challenge to consider the nation’s capital as a collection of neighborhoods and villages lined with family-owned, independent merchants. Here are just a few of the thousands of great places in Washington, D.C., to shop local during the holidays and throughout the year.



On the web:

In their own words: “You’ve heard the expression, ‘Cooking is an art, but baking is a science.’ At DOUGH, we believe there’s no reason that gluten-free baked goods shouldn’t be works of art, and we’ve taken the time to learn the science behind what it takes to make that happen. And here’s a hint … you don’t need gluten!”



On the web:

In their own words: “Since 2011 we’ve been making nice & soft things out of your photos from Instagram and elsewhere. Pillows, totes, wristlets and coin purses. They are quite possibly the perfect gift and super fun to make for yourself, too. They make really great gifts and are fun to have around your home.”

Herban Lifestyle


On the web:

In their own words: “With the goal of making the world a happier, healthier, better-smelling place, we cook up products from the highest-quality, healthiest ingredients available, then wrap them in beautiful, earth-friendly packaging. All of our products are handcrafted in small batches in Falls Church, Virginia. We offer a selection of soaps, sugar scrubs, sumptuous body butters, lip crèmes and men’s grooming products.”

Rachel Pfeffer

On the web:

In their own words: “Rachel’s jewelry aims to be simultaneously clever and beautiful. Her work appeals to all tastes, whether you are in the market for a chunky amethyst geode ring, or a tiny bicycle tie tack.”

Palo Borracho

Palo Borracho

On the web:

In their own words: “Palo Borracho is a small, family business based in Washington, D.C. Inspired by our passion for art and beauty, we have merged the two to create some truly unique gifts that can’t be found anywhere else. Our hand-crafted pieces and original designs are beautiful, functional and accessibly priced.”

Farhney’s Pens

On the web:

In their own words: “For 85 years, Fahrney’s has served as Washington’s premier pen store. Through its history, Fahrney’s has remained as much a part of the nation’s capital as the Washington Monument, the White House and the cherry blossoms. As a purveyor of fine writing instruments to some of Washington’s more prominent officials, Fahrney’s has, in its own way, played an integral role in some of our town’s more notable events and activities by providing writing instruments that have been used to sign treaties and turn bills into laws. Fahrney’s is the pen retailer of choice for many of the city’s prominent businesspeople, politicians and diplomats. We pride ourselves on providing a unique dedication to our customers, while delivering the highest quality products and service available.”



On the web:

In their own words: “An American Mercantile and Dry Goods Store. Est. 1998.”


Do you have suggestions for more independently-owned shops in Washington, D.C., that are great for holiday shopping? Or, would you like to create a list like this for your hometown? (Be sure to check the list at the top of the page to see what other cities we’ve featured.) If so, contact us at with your ideas. We’ll give you a shout-out link if we use your suggestion.

Great Places to Shop Local for the Holidays in Lincoln, Neb. | 2015 Wed, 02 Dec 2015 13:33:54 +0000

Nicknamed the “Star City,” Lincoln, Nebraska, is home to the University of Nebraska. And in 2013, Lincoln ranked No. 4 on Forbes’ list of “Best Places for Businesses and Careers.” Lincoln’s also the home of many great places to shop local for the holidays—and throughout the year. Here are just a few examples of the great places you’ll find.

Cause for Paws

On the web:

In their own words: Cause For Paws is a non-profit boutique whose proceeds help support animal charities and rescue organizations. We are an unique establishment that opened its doors in December 2008. We accept new and gently used donations of women’s clothes, shoes, purses, housewares, jewelry, furniture, seasonal and pet items, and we turn these items into cash to help animals. Through the support of donations and customers, Cause for Paws has donated more than $300,000 to charities like: Hearts United for Animals, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, The Capital Humane Society of Lincoln, The Cat House and Nebraska No Kill.

KD Designs Jewelry


On the web:

In their own words: KD Designs Jewelry is a mother/daughter team out of Lincoln, Nebraska. Danielle (the daughter) began making jewelry as a hobby in the 6th grade when she wanted to raise money for a production of Annie she was a part of at the Lincoln Community Playhouse. From there, a hobby turned into a family business. From craft fairs to farmers markets, Kara (the mom) decided to jump on board. Years later, Kara runs KD Designs’ retail location in Lincoln and facilitates our wholesale business—where KD Designs is carried in stores all across the country. Meanwhile, Danielle is a full-time student at Loyola University Chicago majoring in accounting. She assists in making the jewelry and is in charge of anything design or web related. We pride ourselves on being a family run, handmade business. All of our products are wrapped/crimped/strung by us, our family, and our friends here in Nebraska. Our customer service reflects this.



On the web:

In their own words: Lincoln’s longest-running consignment shop, omt! has been bringing personal service to fashion resale since Jan Gauger first opened the doors in 1978. Today, daughters Sarah and Kate share her passion for fashion, fun and outstanding customer service—and you’ll often find Jan in the store, too (making sure we uphold her high standards)!

Roots Music Shop


On the web:

In their own words: Roots Music Shop was founded in 2012 in by Ryan Larsen, a life-long Lincoln resident with 25 years experience as a musician. This long-time dream was inspired by Ryan’s passion for music. “To me, you can’t have superior customer service without listening. Our staff is made up of musicians who care about helping others. We’re all about building community—long term relationships to grow the musical culture here in Lincoln.”



On the web:

In their own words: A great boutique in downtown Lincoln. Great fashion, locally made jewelry and much more!


Do you have suggestions for more independently-owned shops in Lincoln that are great for holiday shopping? Or, would you like to create a list like this for your hometown? (Be sure to check the list at the top of the page to see what other cities we’ve featured.) If so, contact us at with your ideas. We’ll give you a shout-out link if we use your suggestion.

200+ Great Places to Shop Local for the Holidays in Portland, Ore. | Little Boxes, 2015 Fri, 27 Nov 2015 15:14:01 +0000

Portland’s Little Boxes celebration is an alternative to both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. No offense, but small, independent merchants can’t be relegated to one day, the event’s organizers appropriately believed. The last time we checked in on Little Boxes (if you haven’t figured out the name, “little boxes” is the opposite of “big box”), there were about 90 merchants participating. This year,  over 200 of Portland’s independently and neighborhood (and as with all things Portland, hip) shops are participating in the two-day event. They have developed an app and games–with some pretty incredible prizes–that shoppers can win just by taking a stroll in Portland’s best shopping districts. Thanks to the Little Boxes website, here are 200+ great places to shop local in Portland today, tomorrow and throughout the year.


Screaming_Sky(via: Screaming Sky)




(Photo: Clogs & More)


Downtown/West End

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East Burnside




(Photo: Flipside Hats)



Montavilla/East Tabor

Multnomah Village


Old Town

Pearl District


St. Johns

Great Places to Shop Local for the Holidays in Birmingham | 2015 Wed, 25 Nov 2015 12:58:16 +0000

Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama, is relatively new compared to most places of its size. Not founded until 1871, during the post-Civil War, Reconstruction and Industrial Revolution eras, it rapidly became the South’s dominant industrial and railroad transportation center with a focus on mining, the iron and steel industry and railroading. Today, the city and its surrounding suburbs have a population of 1.1 million. Birmingham has a diverse economy that includes banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education and insurance. And as anyone who has spent time in Birmingham knows, it’s home to some of the most inviting small shops and restaurants—great places to shop and dine during the holidays and throughout the year.



Photo: A’Mano

On the web:

In their own words: “Our vision at A’mano is to showcase one of a kind items from local artists here in Birmingham and surrounding areas. We have an excellent reputation within the local artist community for promoting their artwork and helping to get their name and artworks out in the community. In addition to this we have work form artists all over the United States and world. And because A’mano is not strictly painting gallery, we are free to sell all kinds of art, and we do! From glass to pottery to furniture and wearable art, we have a wide assortment of unique and colorful gifts that would cater to every taste.”

At Home Furnishings


(Photo: At Home Furnishings)

On the web:

In their own words: “At Home Furnishings is a unique, privately owned store in the historic Homewood district of Birmingham. We have been in business for over twenty years. Our wares are hand picked by the owner and staff to ensure that everyone’s tastes are satisfied. The flea market style makes the shop charming and inviting. Our incredible inventory, from India and China, changes daily.”



(Photo: NOLO Signage)

On the web:

In their own words: “For more than a century, Bromberg’s has provided fine jewelry and giftware options for the most discerning customers in Birmingham. Family-owned and operated since 1836, Bromberg’s has established a solid reputation as a fine purveyor of quality diamonds as well as jewelry timepieces and gifts.”

Leaf and Petal


(Photo: Leaf & Petal)

On the web:

In their own words: “Leaf & Petal was founded in 1974 in Birmingham in Mountain Brook Village. It started as a small, one-couple plant shop that grew in size (now, three locations) and number of associates over the next 30 years. It remains a down-to-earth, hometown business based on old-fashion customer service. Leaf & Petal’s working philosophy is to greet every customer at the door and give them one-on-one attention. This Mayberry approach has earned rave reviews, years of continual success and hundreds of dedicated patrons.”



(Photo: Oil.O)

On the web:

In their own words: “Located in Mountain Brook Village in Birmingham, Oli.O (short for olive and oil) is a family-owned and operated retail store specializing in the selling of premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars imported fresh from around the world. A fondness for high quality olive oil, healthy eating, entertaining, and memories fellowshipping around the table with family and friends lead to the opening of Oli.O in late November of 2013.”

Table Matters



On the web:

In their own words: “Table Matters is a one of a kind gift shop nestled in the heart of Mountain Brook Village in Birmingham. We specialize in pottery from all over the world and unique table linens. Table Matters provides in-home consultations for accessorizing your home and setting your table.”


Do you have suggestions for more independently-owned shops in Birmingham that are great for holiday shopping? Or, would you like to create a list like this for your hometown? (Be sure to check the list at the top of the page to see what other cities we’ve featured.) If so, contact us at with your ideas. We’ll give you a shout-out link if we use your suggestion.

Great Places to Shop Local for the Holidays in Knoxville, Tenn. | 2015 Tue, 24 Nov 2015 13:15:36 +0000

Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll find Knoxville, Tennessee. Knox County is home to more than 7,000 small businesses. Here are a few examples of some of the great locally-owned merchants you can visit in Knoxville when doing your holiday shopping—or throughout the year.

Union Avenue Books

On the web:

In their own words: Since we opened our doors in 2011, we’ve been dedicated to helping you find just the right books for you and everyone else on your shopping list. Our booksellers are ready to suggest something from our well-curated selection of books for all ages. We believe an independent bookstore is essential to the vibrancy of our community.


Knoxville Chocolate Company


On the Web:

In their own words: What does a 23-year-old do with a BA in History and no real life plan? He opens a chocolate store! In 1995, I had worked for a chocolate company in Florida off and on for approximately six years, so I was ready to take on the world. My father, Jim, and I opened a 1,000 square foot store called Bradley’s Chocolate in Knoxville. Yes I know, real original. We featured delicious, handmade chocolates that very few people seemed to want. After struggling for a for years, we moved to a new location were I doubled the size of the store and more importantly, met my future Bride, Joy, who not only changed my life but also Bradley’s in a major way.

Joy worked for a large gift store that happened to be next door to our new location. I always tell people she only paid for something one time and wooed her with lots of free chocolate. She started adding her special touch to Bradley’s, adding much needed changes and finding great gift items that people really loved. Joy added so many things that at the end of 2012 we moved across the street and once again doubled the size of our store. To add to the excitement we also purchased a local candy manufacture, now called the Knoxville Chocolate Company, which has allowed us to expand our candy line and enter into wholesaling our delicious confections.


Earth to Old City


On the Web:

In their own words: Locally-owned and operated for over 20 years in downtown Knoxville, we specialize in unique gifts and carry many local vendors, as well as vendors from across the United States and around the world!


Fountain City Pedaler


On the Web:

In their own words: In 2008, Fountain City resident Luke Grieve noticed that there was a need in the area for a good full-service bicycle store that focuses on good customer service. It’s obvious when entering the shop that Luke knows his way around a bicycle. He goes the extra mile to make sure customers are properly informed and educated on bicycles and accessory options. Buying a bike is personal and it needs to fit the rider and their intended use. Helping the customer with their bike before, during, and after the purchase is our specialty.


River Sports Outfitters


On the Web:

In their own words: River Sports Outfitters is an independent outdoor specialty retailer in Knoxville, Tennessee. Ed McAlister officially opened the shop over 30 years ago and has been providing local and online customers with the best in road / trail biking, road / trail running, camping / backpacking, rock climbing, and paddle sports gear since then. By focusing on core brands such as Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, Arc’Teryx, Marmot, Kuhl, Osprey, Chaco, Keen and Asolo, River Sports has carved a niche as the destination of choice for outdoor enthusiasts.


Rik’s Music & Sound


On the web:

In the words of a fan: Rik’s is an independently owned guitar and musical instrument store that has been family operated for 21 years. The store is staffed with people who are friendly and knowledgeable and who make my son feel like an aspiring musician. Best in Knoxville!


Do you have suggestions for more independently-owned shops in Knoxville that are great for holiday shopping? Or, would you like to create a list like this for your hometown? (Be sure to check the list at the top of the page to see what other cities we’ve featured.) If so, contact us at with your ideas. We’ll give you a shout-out link if we use your suggestion.

Great Places to Shop Local for the Holidays in Raleigh NC | 2015 Mon, 23 Nov 2015 12:48:30 +0000

Raleigh, the state capital of North Carolina, is part of the technology-centric region of North Carolina called Research Triangle. But being high-tech isn’t the only thing Raleigh is known for. It’s also a great place to discover the region’s “high touch” creations of artists, cooks and makers of all kinds.  Here are a few examples of the the many great local merchants in Raleigh, N.C., where you can shop local for the holidays or anytime throughout the year.

DECO Raleigh

On the web:

In their own words: DECO Raleigh proudly features more than 60 local artisans’ work: pottery, prints, cards, jewelry, textiles and the best local t-shirts. Our goal is to offer fresh and diverse perspectives with affordable prices and an ever-changing selection. We celebrate our artists at First Friday and other special events. Check out TONS of locally-made goods!


Carolina Popcorn

Carolina Popcorn

On the web:

In their own words: “Carolina Popcorn is family owned, operated and local to the Raleigh, Cary area. Since 2000, we’ve been making only the best ultra gourmet popcorn in Raleigh, the heart of North Carolina. Quality popcorn is air popped and combined with the finest ingredients to create a product we are proud to call our own. Our many varieties are hand blended incorporating real creamery butter, plenty of brown sugar, fresh roasted nuts, rich cheese blends and other superior ingredients.”

(Photo: Carolina Pop Corn)

Sluice Hammocks

On the web:

In their own words: “Sluice hammocks are handmade in Raleigh, North Carolina with domestically-sourced materials and components. We are committed to create quality products because we want people to get outside! We build to last and give customers a way to experience their favorite places like never before. With each hammock, our small team hopes to pass on a little piece of North Carolina that everyone can enjoy.”

Note: Sluice Hammocks are primarily sold online via the company’s website. However, they are available in several Raleigh-area stores including the NC Hammock Co. (open weekends only) and DECO Raleigh (see above).

(Illustration: Sluice Hammocks)

Midtown Olive Oil


On the web:

In their own words: “Inspired by delicious, authentic and healthy ingredients, Midtown Olive Oil decided to bring a tasting experience of our unique flavors of balsamic vinegars and the very freshest olive oils to the Triangle area. The first Midtown Olive Oil store opened in Raleigh’s North Hills in the fall of 2010. Since then, we’ve added online ordering and wide selection of local and imported gourmet foods to our offering. A third location opened in the historic downtown area of New Bern in September 2013. The unique concept of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic tasting bars has been well received in Eastern N.C.”

(Photo: Midtown Olive Oil)

Vertical Urge

On the web:

In their own words: Vertical Urge is Raleigh and North Carolina’s leading resource for all things skateboarding and snowboarding. We are a four-time Transworld Business Southeast Retailer of the Year. With over 7000 square feet of retail space if you’re into skating or riding we can take care of you. Locally owned and operated since 1992, we pride ourselves not only on our huge selection of products, but also our dedication to our customers and our skateboard & snowboard scenes.

(Photo: Vertical Urge)


Do you have suggestions for more independently-owned shops in Raleigh that are great for holiday shopping? Or, would you like to create a list like this for your hometown? (Be sure to check the list at the top of the page to see what other cities we’ve featured.) If so, contact us at with your ideas. We’ll give you a shout-out link if we use your suggestion.


Shop Local for Last Minute Valentine’s Day Sweets | 2014 Tue, 11 Feb 2014 15:42:00 +0000 Before Friday, remember to drop by a locally owned candy store near you and pick up some Valentine’s Day sweets. From sea salt caramel truffles to french macaroons and heart-shaped chocolates, you’ll find that special treat by shopping local from coast-to-coast. There should be a well-stocked candy store in cities and towns of all sizes, but here are ten sweet shops to inspire you:

1. Kakao Chocolate, St. Louis

Valentine's day

(Photo via KaKao Chocolate on Facebook)

Kakao Chocolate takes confections to new heights. But with fresh cream, butter, vanilla bean seeds, spices, nuts and of course caramel, Kakao will give its satisfied customers more than just chocolate this Valentines.

2. Norman Love Confections, Naples, Florida

Valentine's day

(Photos via Norman Love Confections on Facebook)

If you’re in search of chocolate commemorating your favorite love songs, look no further than Norman Love Confections (@NormanLoveCandy). This artsy chocolate business offers Love In Sweet Harmony, heart-shaped chocolates inspired by favorite love songs, now available online for Valentines day.

3. Sucre, New Orleans

Valentine's day

(Photo via Sucre New Orleans on Facebook)

One of the best sweet shops in New Orleans, Sucre (@SucreNewOrleans) proudly uses Louisiana cane sugar, and other local produce to make their award winning king cake and Sweetheart macaroons–available online.

4. Sugar, Birmingham

Valentine's day

(Photo via Sugar Birmingham on Facebook)

Birmingham’s Sugar (@SugarBirmingham) offers more than what the store’s name implies. This Valentine’s Day, swing by, grab some sweets and a t-shirt and you’ll get another one half off.

5. Olive & Sinclair, Nashville

Valentine's day

(Photo via Olive & Sinclair on Facebook)

Olive & Sinclair’s Valentine’s Day Heart is a 67% cacao chocolate heart made with cinnamon and engraved with, “To my valentine.” This rich heart makes two cups of the best hot chocolate you’ve ever had (@olivesinclair).

6. Seroogy’s, De Pere, Wisconsin

Valentine's day

 (Photo: via wikimedia commons)

Known for chocolate traditionally crafted in the same way for more than a century, Seroogy’s (@seroogys) sells chocolate teddy bears, hearts, lips, keys and gift baskets from its local location in DePere Wisconsin or online.

7. Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier, St. Louis

Valentine's day

(Photo via Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier on Facebook)

Blending elements of tradition and innovation to create award-winning chocolate, Bissinger’s (@bissingers) offers more than eighteen different and distinct heart-shaped chocolates for her or him.

8. Cacao, Atlanta

Valentine's day

(Photo via Cacao on Facebook)

Because Cacao (@cacaoatlanta) works with local growers to craft their chocolate from bean-to-bar, you can expect them to add sweetness and a bit of spice to any gift you give a loved one for Valentine’s.

9. Davidson Chocolate Co., Charlotte

Valentine's day

(Photo via Davidson Chocolate Co. on Facebook)

Davidson Chocolate Co.’s ( most popular Valentine’s gift idea is their 1 lb confection sampler that includes toffee, caramel turtles and a enough variety to please any chocoholic.

10. Sugar Sugar,  Minneapolis

Valentine's day

(Photo via

As the name implies, Sugar Sugar Candy delivers that irresistible necessity of sweetness its customers crave, expect them to tantalize your taste buds if you’re in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area come February 14th.


10 Great Small Towns to Shop Local Anytime of the Year | 2013 Thu, 16 Jan 2014 14:47:23 +0000 While working on our series of great places to shop local back in December, we felt guilty about not including stores from small towns and rural America. As there are something like 34,000 towns in the U.S. with less than 25,000 residents, we were sure the odds would be in our favor that there are thousands of great small towns that are great shopping destinations. Turns out we were right! We know of a few, ourselves, as some of us grew up in them.

Yesterday, we featured small and rural business expert Becky McCray’s 2014 Trends for Rural Small Businesses. Her post inspired us to revisit some of small businesses we had on our list of great rural and small towns in America where you can enjoy local shopping all year long. Thanks to Becky  and others for their suggestions of towns to include. If you’d like to suggest a town, add a comment to this post on Facebook or tweet us at @SmallBusiness. We will be featuring more such towns–and visiting them, also–in the future. (Note: We’ve got 11 on this list, but since our series is called “10 Great” and we couldn’t stand cutting one, please forgive the under-counted great places.)

1. Luling, Texas

 Luling, TX,Great Small Towns

(Photo via

Once known as the “toughest town in Texas”, Luling was established in 1874 from the construction progression of the railroad. Today it is a small town revered for its brisket barbecue, extensive inland paddling trail, Huber Package Store (the oldest liquor store in Texas) and the annual watermelon festival and competition held in June known as the Watermelon Thump.

2. Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Great Small Towns

(Photo via

If you have ever seen the Steven Spielberg classic, The Goonies, you might have taken notice of the setting: a small foggy fishing town in the Pacific Northwest–Astoria Oregon. Though the real town doesn’t have buried treasure, pirates, or shady crime families (that we know of), Astoria is still an incredible town to visit. Placed at the mouth of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean, Astoria is a fisherman’s dream. Although, over-fishing over the last hundred years has hurt the local economy, proud Astorians are making efforts to revitalize the sleepy fishing town. If you have the good fortune to visit Astoria (its a recurrent stop for cruise ships), downtown on Commercial Street you can stop to see a collection of eclectic cafes and boutiques and other small businesses that will greet you with a warm welcome (despite the cold weather there this time of year).

3. Hanover, New HampshireHanover, NH, Great Small Towns

(Photo via

Home to Dartmouth College, Hanover rests in the upper valley of the Connecticut River, surrounded by the many lakes and mountains that make up the greater New England wilderness. With snow on the ground this time of year, Hanover possesses a cozy and intellectual feel. And with this feeling is a downtown full of boutiques, book stores, and cafes of the local variety. If you are seeking the regions renowned maple syrup, we recommend the Hanover Co-Op.

 5. Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico, Great Small Towns

(Photo via RamblingReflections)

Another great small town is Toas, New Mexico. At the feet of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos, New Mexico is located next to Taos Pablo the native American village of which the small town derives its name. Because of its positioning and connection many artists and craftsmen have been attracted to Taos for its rich native American culture and beautiful landscape. As a result the town is home to the Toas Art Colony.

6. Georgetown, South CarolinaGeorgetown, SC, Great Small Towns

(Photo via SCFiasco on Flickr)

Settled perhaps as early as 1526, Georgetown rests at the edge of the Winyah Bay and as a result has been used as South Carolina’s second largest seaport throughout its history. Abundant in South Carolinian, Lowcountry culture, Georgetown’s historic front street is home to unique small businesses that will clothe, feed, intrigue and entertain you. Though its one street off Front Street, you should visit the Kudzu Bakery for fantastic baked goods and the best tomato tart you have ever had.

 7. Fairhope, Alabama

Fairhope, AL, Great Small Towns

(Photo via

Sitting up on a bluff overlooking Mobile Bay, Fairhope at first appears to be a European village. Over the last century, the town has become a sanctuary for artists and writers who have found the area inspiring and in return conrtributed to the community. The downtown is spotted with artist galleries and dozens of antique stores.

8. Mangum, Oklahoma

Mangum, Great Small Towns

 (Photo via

Mangum, Oklahoma is home to several award winning artists that have set up shop in the downtown area called Artists Alley. Artist Alley features three main art studios: Darka Designs, Rockin T’ Studio, and Ok Cowboy Art along with plenty of other shopping and dining options.

9. Sonora, California

Sonora, California, Great Small Towns

(Photo via wikimedia commons)

Settled in 1848 by Mexican miners during the California Gold Rush, Sonora was a center for commerce as well as the mining and timber industries for the region. Though it still holds onto to its historical roots, the town’s economy has shifted and is now primarily supported by tourism. Located just seventy miles from Yellowstone National Park, Sonora offers tons of outdoor recreational opportunities. The town is also a cultural hotspot for film, having been featured in more than 300 films and television series.

10. La Grange, Kentucky

La Grange, Kentucky, Great Small Towns

(Photo via John Day on Flickr)

If you have an interest in traveling by train, La Grange offers unbeatable convienance as more than thirty trains travel down its Main Street daily. Fortunately, the trains cannot exceed more than ten miles moving through town and the towns array of small businesses such as the 1887 Corner Store and Mercantile On Main will probably offer enough diversion to keep you off the streets when the trains are rolling by.

 11. Irvington, Virginia

Irvington, Virginia, Great Small Towns

(Photo via

Located in the Northern Neck, a peninsula off the coast of Virginia that is bordered by the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, Irvington is a small village of approximately 670 people. The town’s history, beauty, and quaint size has turned it into a weekend destination for visitors all over the country area. Irvington’s businesses are pricey because they deliver unmatched quality. Other attractions include the Steamboat Era Museum, two different golf courses, and four vineyards to choose from.