Have you heard of Small Business Saturday? Started by American Express in 2010 the goal is to encourage us to shop at local, small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Kind of the antidote to big box stores and Black Friday fever.
One of my goals this year is to do as much shopping as possible at local stores or from small business in Chicago. To attain that goal, here are three places I’ll be spending my money. Maybe not on Small Business Saturday, but definitely before Christmas.
Milk Handmade’s main store is at 5137 N Clark Street in Chicago but they recently won the Block 37 Pop-Up Shop contest and will have a shop in the Block 37 stores at 108 N State Street (second floor!) for two months.
Photos courtesy of Zapwater
I went to the Milk Handmade Pop-Up shop opening and saw at least 10 things I wanted either for myself or as gifts.
Almost all of the items sold at Milk Handmade are made by Chicago artists as well so not only is the shop itself local but the items are local, too! And Hallie, the owner, puts up little signs telling you about the artist and where the items came from.
Milk Handmade is also doing a collaboration this season with Care for Real where you can bring gently used clothing donations to the store to get discounts and freebies! I’m really looking forward to doing our sibling name drawing at Thanksgiving so I know who I can start shopping for!
2. One of a Kind Show – December 4th – 7th
The One of a Kind show is a weekend long pop-up shop to end all pop-up shops. Did you ever go to craft fairs at the mall when you were a kid? Or maybe a street art fair? This is like that on steroids. More than 600 vendors will have booths with items such as housewares, food, clothing, and jewelry. You can see some of the items on their Instagram feed.
Last year was the first time I went and I was in awe. It takes place on one floor of the Merchandise Mart which itself takes up an entire city block. There is a $12 cost to attend but that ticket covers entry for all four days of the show. Last year I knocked out over half of my gift shopping in one fell swoop so the ticket cost was totally worth it.
Not all of the vendors are Chicago-based but many of them are. And most of the items are handmade and you get to meet the creator in person.
3. The Fig Tree
Located on Madison Street in Chicago’s West Loop (1037 W Madison, to be exact) The Fig Tree is an awesome place to find gifts. I wandered in there on my way home from work one day to find a bridal shower gift and wanted to buy one of everything for someone!
I ended up buying the bridal shower gift and my first Christmas gift. The selection changes seasonally so if you see something you should get it right then because it might not be there if you wait!
The Fig Tree has accessories for both you and your home, kids clothes, toys and books, and a quirky assortment of cards and random items. And I personally thought everything was reasonably priced.
And since this store is in my neighborhood I’ll definitely be supporting them!
There are myriad other independent local stores in Chicago, though. Two others that come to mind are One Strange Bird (the owner and I go to the same dog park and she’s amazing) and Comfort Me Boutique.
So, this year don’t forget about shopping local whether you’re in Chicago or not.
What’s your favorite place to “shop small”?
By the way, I was not asked by American Express or any of these stores to write anything. I just like to share the love. Although, I will say that Milk Handmade plied me to with drinks and cupcakes at their pop-up shop opening but that was just to attend, not to write anything nice about them.