An Online Shopping Guide for Small Business Saturday (2021 Edition)
As the headline says, it's 2021. We've all grown accustomed to buying things online over the past two years: groceries, toilet paper, the newest superhero movie, and most relevant to this article, gifts. Raise your hand if you never want to go to a major life event via Zoom ever again!
While I'd rather go shopping in person, doing it online is actually pretty fun. Getting little things in the mail here and there has been a a nice break in the day for me since I'm still working from home. Extra points if the delivery is something I forgot I ordered. That's Past Me looking out for Future Me's happiness, and I love her for that.
With less in-person conventions, vendor
co-ops, and farmer's markets, a ton of small businesses have shifted to online shops, live streamed shows, and digital co-ops. I cannot stress this enough when I say this is amazing news for you. Not only can you stop buying boring, generic things for yourself from @$!zon dot com, but your holiday gifts are about to get ten times cooler. I can hear 70% of you saying, "Amazing! I'm tired of giving Jeff all my money." But, I also know the other 30% of you are about to make some points. Let me try to bust two myths real quick, and then we'll get into the online shopping list.
MYTH #1: "Big stores are more reliable. I don't want my gifts to come too late!" Your gifts won't come late if you order them early, Brenda. Also, most independent shops have holiday shipping cut off dates right on their homepages, so you can double check your timing. Also, also, a lot of small shops take a huge amount of pride in how their goods are packaged. This means you can send these gifts right from the shop to their recipient. No need to take them out of the hideous W@&m*rt box and repackage/reship it to it's final destination.
MYTH #2: "Buying from small businesses is more expensive than big box stores." You might be shocked to learn that it's usually not that big of a price jump, and a lot of small shops have holiday sales just like the big ones. That being said, a Black Friday sale at a small business is a gift from the kindness of that creator's heart. You should never expect sales from small businesses. Handmade and small batch goods take time, care, and a lot of risk to produce. In many cases, you're purchasing an actual piece of art from this creator -- it might just be shaped like a one of a kind ceramic mug or a limited run t-shirt. You sure can't get one of a kind art at H%me G*@ds. Also, small batch creators really take the time to quality check each item and use the best materials they can. That is one million percent not the case with the cheap BS you get from Target (not censored because I kind of like Target sometimes. Oops.)
OKAY. Myths, busted.
Now, let's get into some of my favorite small shops to follow and buy from. Any shops with a "**" next to them mean I have personally purchased from them or worked with the owner and will confidently vouch for the quality of their products. Keep in mind that a lot of these shops work in small batch drops, so if they're out of something you love for the holidays, why not follow them on Insta and snatch up a birthday or Valentine's Day gift from them later?
Prelude & Dawn - home and personal care items, including a black-owned business feature section
**BizBaz Club** - a collective of nerdy artists who you might find at a comic con's Artist Alley
**Gallery Nucleus** - a colorful array of prints and merch from comic book and animation artists
**The Thriftocrat** - an online thrift shop selling highly curated second hand goods
The Washi Station - stickers and washi tape from a colorful collection of different illustrators
**Popshop Live** - an app that streams small business trade shows 24/7. Fridays have free shipping!
**Space Queen Studio** - handmade ceramics inspired by anime, video games, and the 90s
People Via Plants - handmade ceramics in unique textures and pastel colors
Britt Wilson - handmade ceramics with a whimsical cartoon style (Next Restock: Nov 27, 10am ET)
Heerspink Ceramics - subtle Star Wars themed handmade ceramics (Next Restock: Nov 29)
Natalie Koromoto - home goods and small gifts featuring charming midcentury illustrations
**Shy Wolf Candles** - the best candles you'll ever buy...I've spent so much money here
CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES:
Park Native - felt berets with bight, nostalgic designs inspired by Disneyland and holiday themes
**StuyDYED** - new and just-like-new clothing, hand-dyed using natural pigments in Brooklyn, NY
**Dumb Good** - limited runs of unique, officially licensed designs feat. your fave movies and TV
Adelaide's Fort - clothing for nerds who like a more subtle approach
**Chunks** - the cutest hair clips you ever did see
New Wonder - handmade earrings and necklaces that looks like tiny, magical terrariums
UNIQUE NERDY GIFTS:
Pika-Pika - an illustrator who will turn a photo of your pet into a Pokemon card (genius!)
Boxford Comma - themed mystery boxes full of thrifted, handmade, and found objects
Bergette Pigments - handmade watercolor paint sets complete with illustrated coloring pages
Hero's Armory - house keys that look like video game Boss Keys
**Into A Larger World Zine** - a quarterly Star Wars fan zine that's handmade and mailed the old fashioned way. Each one is a delightful collection of fandom news, interviews, cosplays, and art from fans for fans.
A Patreon Subscription - When in doubt, just support your favorite artist directly! I've subscribed to Sugarbones, Babs Tarr (18+), and Jiji Knight (18+), but lots of comic book/animation artists have sticker and pin clubs.
ALL THE SHOPS I BUY MY ENAMEL PINS FROM:
I just feel like this roundup needs to go somewhere, so here they are. All the girlies. Yes, these nerdy little shops are all owned/run by women.
Lantern Pins * Squadron Goals * Kimchi Kreative * Afterblossom Art
Han's Pins * Candy Corpse * weirdtakoyaki * DoodleSpork
Pintaku Pins * Fulcrum Pins * Kulture Girl Flair
Punch It Chewie Press * The Moonborn * Laserbrain Patch Co
Kjones Crafts * Geekanista * A Fan of Shop