Support Local Shops and the Community: Small Business Saturday and Buy Nothing Day

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have gained mainstream traction, but the slightly lesser known Small Business Saturday (started by American Express, oddly enough) is a great event that supports the local economy directly.  Most Mom and Pop owners work at their store, have an undying passion for the products they’re selling, and are usually happy to share their knowledge with customers, helping them go home happy with their purchases. While the big market conglomerates are trying to monopolize the world, Mom and Pop shops remain a strong and resilient bunch, and are worth at least a window shopping of your time. Here are a few local stores offering deals on Small Business Saturday.

Ocean State Apparel sells Rhode Island specific souvenirs, crafted locally. Items include candles, mugs, key chains, postcards, magnets and jewelry. They also provide embroidery, screen-printing, transfers and graphic design, and their aim is to provide a fun, no-pressure shopping experience, complete with free coffee, hot chocolate or tea. 2105 Post Rd, Warwick. 401-737-0686; oceanstatesouvenirs.com

Many retailers on Hope Street are working together for Small Business Saturday. With hours from 10am – 8pm, sales, specials and unique events are happening and it’s the place to be for those wanting to take part in a real community event. Food trucks will be on hand to feed hungry shoppers.  Participating stores include Blooming Blossoms Floral Boutique, The Cheeky Hound, Creatoyvity, Evolve Apothecary, Frog and Toad, J Marcel, Kreatelier, LULI Boutique, Rhody Craft and Stock Culinary Goods. facebook.com/events/1514141762244993

For those wanting to do something a little different, sail away to Block Island for their 26th Annual Christmas Shopping Stroll. Shoppers can enjoy festive decorations, including a Lobster Pot Tree, while enjoying more than 20 retail stores and their sales. To make things more fun, there will be raffle prizes! 401-466-2474 for information

For those already pulling their hair out thinking about Black Friday and the start of holiday shopping, there is Buy Nothing Day. In its 19th year, Buy Nothing Day serves as a winter coat exchange, focusing on a community sharing instead of buying the latest gadgets. Buy Nothing Day will take place on Friday, November 27, on the State House lawn (with a rain location of 15 Hayes Street in Providence) from 9am – 1pm.  Most Greater Providence YMCAs will also be having a coat exchange at the same time.  Coats can be donated at various locations throughout Rhode Island in November. facebook.com/BNDRhodeIsland/timeline

My suggestion for this holiday season is to try not to get overwhelmed in the commercialism and spending that comes with this season. It’s a great gift watching someone open a present that you bought them and seeing the excitement on their face. These gifts don’t need to be big or break the bank. If you can’t afford anything big, go to a store in your community, buy a pen and write a story or draw a picture. That memory will last long after the PlayStation gets traded in and the clothes get donated.

 There’s something magical about Christmas night, after all the presents have been put away and you’re sitting at the table picking on leftovers. The spirit and cheer in the air is almost visible and feels concrete.  I’m wishing on all my shooting stars for that feeling again this year, which can’t be bought in a store. (And brakes. My car could probably use new brakes.)

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