how to shop small this holiday season & local shops to support in seattle

It truly blows my mind that I’m sitting down to write this post already. Mentally, I’m still in February – a time when we were blissfully unaware of the year that would soon hit us in the face.

This year has seriously been tough on everyone, but especially small businesses and restaurants. With the wealth of billionaires rising nearly 1/3 since the start of the pandemic while millions of working class Americans lost their jobs, I think we should all be looking for ways to avoid shopping on Amazon this year and support small businesses instead. Trust me, Jeff Bezos doesn’t need your Christmas Bonus. He’ll be fine.

I’ve curated a gift guide below made of items from smaller, independent retailers, along with some ideas of how you can support local small businesses as well.

The gift of an experience

Did you know that nationwide average spend on physical goods is actually up compared to pre-pandemic numbers? eCommerce and physical goods retailers are doing exceptionally well, and the service industry is what’s struggling right now. This makes it all the more important to give the gift of experiences and services this holiday season!

Here are some ideas for pandemic friendly experiences you can gift to a friend or loved one:

Hot Tub Boats: A hot tub in the middle of Lake Union, need I say more? We did this back in August and it would definitely be doable in early spring, when the weather starts to pick back up. The price wasn’t as bad as I expected – $350 for 2 hours, and you can bring whatever food and drinks you like. This would make a great date or family activity, and you can buy gift cards on their website.

Try Mystery: Try Mystery was launched by one of Ben’s old colleagues, and though I haven’t tried it yet myself, I’ve heard from several colleagues who have bought one in place of a date night and have really loved it. They used to curate surprise date nights in the city, but now offer take home boxes with dinner, activities, and treats for a pandemic friendly experience. I’ve heard from several coworkers who have used it and they all loved their experience, especially the ones with children.

Give the gift of a local gift card for dinner in: Local restaurants are struggling right now, and though gift cards are sometimes a faux pas when it comes to holiday gifts, I think this year is the exception. They don’t have to be fancy either – people love the option of to-go lunch for all these WFH days!

Gift a cooking class: Seattle Cucina offers virtual cooking classes, and while I know we are all sick of Zoom stuff, a cooking class sounds a lot more engaging than some of the other Zoom activities I’ve heard of.

Gneiss Spice Jars

I am short and our spices were previously stored in cabinets that were way too tall for me. I always forgot what spices we had in there and it was a mess.

Enter Gneiss Spice. These spice jars were one of my earliest quarantine purchases and I can’t tell you how much I love them! Several reasons you should consider refillable spice containers like Gneiss:

  • More eco friendly. Glass and plastic containers require tons of energy to recycle and break down in land fills. With Gneiss, you’ll be able to buy the containers once and refill them for years and years.
  • Fresher spices. Did you know that most of the pre-bottled spices you buy at the grocery store are old and likely not very fresh? It’s way better to purchase fresh spices from bulk retailers like Spice House, World Spice, or your local co-op.
  • Space Saving. This tool is great for small kitchens and cutting down on cabinet space. We store ours on our kitchen fridge and I LOVE THE LOOK!!

Locally brewed coffee

One of our quar (can I call it that?) hobbies this year is coffee. And by our, I mean Ben. He’s gone down hours of watching James Hoffman videos on youtube and makes coffee for me every morning. I would be an absolute zombie without it!

Our favorite local beans are from Mukilteo Coffee Roasters from Whidbey Island right here in Washington. They’re the same beans that are used at Monorail Espresso here in Seattle, my favorite coffee stand ever. The best part about gifting consumables like coffee? Not only are you creating less waste, you’re also not adding to anyone’s clutter at home. Marie Kondo would be so proud.

Handmade ceramics

There’s something so personal and special about handmade ceramics. I personally have a pretty healthy collection of ceramic mugs and planters, and I think they make the perfect gift this holiday season! Below are a few ceramics artists to support:

Jewelry

These past few years, I’ve began to appreciate how a few pieces of jewelry can really transform an entire outfit, even something as basic as jeans and a white tee. I’ve had the privilege of partnering with several jewelry companies over the years, and have also spent hundreds of my own dollars on pieces that I love.

Here are a few jewelry brands that I’ve either tried or catch my eye. Not all of them are the smallest, but none of them are billion dollar brands. I will note the brands I have a current or past working relationship with below.

  • Mejuri: I have been working with Mejuri for over a year now and they’re one of my favorite brands. I always stop by their showroom in NYC or LA and I plan on doing an entire separate blogpost on my favorite Mejuri pieces ahead of their black friday sale next week. You can always get 10% off your first order using my link: crew.mejuri.com/AngelB.
  • AUrate New York: A sustainable jewelry company out of NYC, they use recycled gold for all their pieces. I’ve ordered a few of their pieces and have been impressed with the quality! They offer both gold vermeil and 14K gold pieces. I do not have a partnership with this company, but was able to find a lot of influencer coupon codes for 20% off online.
  • Catbird: Catbird specializes in dainty, stackable everyday jewelry.
  • Leah Alexandra: A Vancouver based brand, I heard about this company from Allana Davidson. I am eye-ing their mini cannes hoops as a gift to myself! I do not have a partnership with Leah Alexandra, but I believe you can use code ALLANA for 10% off.
  • GLDN: Gldn specializes in dainty, custom pieces. They have lots of pieces like small signet rings with custom initials. Their offices are actually in La Connor, WA, so they are a local company too! I have a partnership with GLDN and you can use my link for $5 off your first order.

A good book!

Look, Amazon will almost always be a cheaper option for buying books. Books aren’t where Amazon makes its money and they don’t have the same overhead that a small independent bookstore does. But I urge you to please support your independent bookstore this season, even if it means spending more money. I have so many memories of sitting in bookstores as a child and browsing the shelves – browsing Amazon is just not the same! Local bookstores are also better for emerging authors and for connecting authors to their audiences.

Below are a few of my favorite local Seattle bookstores. Many of these bookstores offer online shopping, delivery, curbside pickup, or you can call them to reserve a book in advance!

local shops and boutiques to check out:

  • Hemleva – perfect for any plant obsessed person, my friend gifted me one of their monstera adasonii keychains and I love seeing it on my keys everyday!
  • Pipe and Row – A women’s boutique located locally in the Ballard neighbor of Seattle.
  • Eco Collective – one of my dear friends Summer co-owns this zero waste boutique. Their website is amazing and I always find great gifts here, such as Stasher bags, unpaper towels, and glass bubble tea straws!
  • Bathing Beauteas – This women owned company offers bath products for an at home spa night, made in Seattle from locally sourced ingredients.
  • Penrose Candles – handpoured soy candles from Portland, OR
  • Glasswing and Glasswing Greenhouse: A local Seattle boutique offering men’s and women’s clothing, and a wide selection of plants and planters

Still can’t find what you’re looking for?

When in doubt, my go to place to find unique gifts is Etsy. You can get anything from customized pet ornaments to handmade leather goods to custom art. The best thing about Etsy is that most of the sellers on the site are small businesses, and many items are made to order!

I hope this gave you some inspiration to shop small this holiday season and avoid the Amazons and Walmarts this year. What are some of your favorite small businesses to support? Please share them below!

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