For many of us it has been a rough few days. As a small business owner and artist, I have to be honest and say that I feel anxious about the future state of our economy. (And for us small biz owners, that means our livelihood.) And I know I’m not alone, it’s a sentiment I’ve heard from fellow artists and crafters this past week. However, the amazing thing since Tuesday’s election is how people have come together. There has been a ton of love and support on Facebook and on social media. I love seeing how many people have vowed to stick together. This holiday season, I am going to extend that love and support to my fellow small business owners, crafters, and artisans. I’m going to shop local and buy handmade. I urge you to do so, too. In potentially tough economic times, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists can use your support!
Here’s how you can shop local, buy handmade and buy from a small business this holiday season.
Markets and Fairs
Craft and artisan markets are growing, which is awesome! They are a great place to find unique one of a kind items made by individual artists and crafters. During any given weekend between November 1st and Christmas you can likely find a craft or artisan fair near you. Fairs come in all shapes, sizes and styles — a few that are coming up in the Boston area:
Craft Boston: December 2-4
(This show is known for its awesome high-end arts and crafts – perfect for holiday shopping!)
South Boston Holiday Market: December 3 & 4
(You can find me there with my handmade business Islay’s Terrace selling my embroidery, knitting and crochet!) By the way, the space is totally cool, you won’t regret coming out to this one — and the Harpoon brewery is right down the street if you get thirsty!
SOWA Holiday Market: December 10 & 11
(This market is a serious crème de la crème of artisans and crafters. I’m extremely honored to be participating, come say hi!)
City Hall Plaza Chalet Experience: December 2-31
This holiday season the city of Boston is planning a totally awesome month-long holiday experience at City Hall Plaza at Government Center – they’ll be transforming the area with a skating rink, hot cocoa and dozens of chalet style boutiques where you can shop for artisan goods. It’s a market style that is popular in Europe and I’m so excited that it’s coming to Boston! I mean, ice skating and cocoa, you guys! Our Etsy Artists of Boston team will have a chalet that will feature 28 different team artists, 7 artists each week, so each week will be a new selection of items to choose from. (Pssst: I’ll be there participating on week 1 from Dec 2 through 8.) Here’s a bit of what you can find there:
Want to find more events in your area? You may already be familiar with shopping on Etsy for handmade goods, but Etsy Local (the market/in-person event aspect of the site) is a wealth of information for finding in-person events in your area! Visit https://www.etsy.com/local/ and enter your location and you’ll be able to find upcoming markets and events as well as see what sellers are participating. The feature is incredibly cool.
Similar to markets, fairs and pop-up markets, open studios allow you a special occasion to shop for handmade and artisan gifts on a particular day — the cool thing usually about these is that they are often quite literally open studios, where you can see where an artist actually works! So while shopping, you can also catch a bit of the behind the scenes action. (Talk about eye candy.) For makers who don’t have a real studio location, some towns offer space in town halls, throughout shops, etc. where you can also meet them and buy their work, too. Some local open studio events in the Boston area include: Allston Open Studios, Fenway Open Studios, Newton Open Studios, Dedham Open Studios, Somerville Open Studios, Jamaica Plain Open Studios. Your town likely has an open studio event, even if it doesn’t take place during the holiday season, it’s worth marking on your calendar!
Brick and Mortar Stores and Shops
Speaking of Etsy Local, did you know you can also use it to find awesome small businesses and stores in your area? Instead of searching for “local events” use the “local stores” tab to find area businesses. This is seriously the best feature ever and a great way to find cool new shops in your area (or a place you are visiting!) Here are a few of my favorite shops and shopping destinations around the Boston area:
Boston Public Market, Boston MA
This fabulous indoor market opened last year and is filled with tons of yumminess like artisan goods and produce from local farms, cheesemakers, bakers and more! PLUS MARSHMALLOWS!
Calliope Paperie, Natick MA
Paper! Stationery! Cards! (And lots of other goodies!) PS: I’ll be doing a pop-up/trunk show there on Dec 1st!
Crompton Collective, Worcester MA
Handmade and vintage awesomeness.
Gather Here, Cambridge MA
The ultimate stop for the maker/crafter in your life — yarn, AH-mazing fabric and more. Plus, classes!
Magpie Industries, Somerville MA
Awesome handmade goods, especially featuring a Somerville vibe.
Counting Sheep Antiques, Berlin MA
Oh so much rustic farmhouse vintage beauty.
And speaking of stores… many brick and mortar locations do great things to bring in area artists, sometimes even national chains! West Elm is one of those. Throughout the holidays many West Elm locations host local artists for pop-up events where you can buy direct from local makers! (You can find me at the West Elm in Burlington, MA on Saturday November 19th from 11-5.) Check out some of your local locations to see if they offer pop-up events near you.
Back in my hometown in Upstate New York we had a wonderful little holiday event every December called Candlelight Night. I was so excited to recently learn that 20+ years later it still happens! During the holidays many towns have holiday strolls, holiday fairs, etc. where they celebrate the season with festive things like caroling, cocoa, tree lighting and other fun winter activities while encouraging you to get to know your town’s local businesses. It’s a great way to explore your town. Shops often offer special events like crafts or DIY, have snacks, or stay open later. It’s definitely worth checking out!
Good Old Etsy
Can’t make it out in person? Or simply have something really particular in mind? Head to Etsy. You’ll seriously find just about anything you’re looking for, handmade by a small artisan/crafter/artist.
I’m ready to pump some Christmas carols and get my holiday shopping on. PS: Small Business Saturday happens on November 26th. Instead of hitting up major retailors on Black Friday, save your $$$ for a small biz.
Have a favorite local event or location you love to shop at? I would love to hear about it! Have a great holiday season! Xoxo, Jillian