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Want that, buy this: A small business buying guide

As consumers, we have so many options for buying all that very necessary stuff we eagerly wait to find at our doorsteps. In the US alone, eCommerce sales accounted for 16% of all retail sales in 2019. That’s a jump of 160% since 2010.

The convenience of online shopping and the gratification of fast shipping are the obvious reasons. I could get all dressed up to go to the store or I could just shop in my undies. What a difficult decision.

But, this increase has overwhelmingly favored the big guys with massive name recognition and an endless ad budget. Small businesses take a hit for the crime of being small and not getting their names subconsciously embedded in the minds of consumers.

Small businesses hiring

Small retailers with 50 or fewer employees account for 98.6% of all retail businesses, hiring nearly 40% of all retail workers. Together, these shops are the backbone of our communities.

More and more, conscious shopping is catching on. People have realized that where they spend their money matters. 

If the big guys are continuously snatching sales from the little guys, the little guys cease to exist. The world becomes homogenous and boring. We can’t take any more boredom.


Where are the small businesses at?

In the interest of supporting the small businesses in our communities, we’ve got a list. 

Conveniently split into categories, here are the places you should be buying from instead of that one that comes up at the top of Google for literally everything you search.


Shoes

We all need to enrobe our feet in stylish protective wear. Here are a few purveyors to help you on your way.

  • Allbirds
    A fellow B Corp that uses renewable resources to create really great shoes.
  • ZUZII FOOTWEAR
    Sustainable, ethical, and women-owned footwear label, made in LA.
  • Nisolo
    Leather footwear label and B Corp focused on creating intentionally and ethically made shoes. Creator of the Ethical Marketplace.

Jewelry

Decorating the head and body is a long-held custom amongst humans. To keep the custom alive while supporting small businesses, we’ve got some options for you.

  • ABLE
    Fully transparent apparel and accessories label. Employs women in US and Ethiopia at a living wage with regular wage audits.
  • SOKO
    Women-led modern jewelry brand and B Corp. Jewelry is made by Kenyan artisans and materials are sustainably sourced.
  • Seaworthy
    US-made jewelry workshop dedicated to sustainability and working toward a 100% waste-free production process.
  • HISTORY + INDUSTRY
    Woman-owned, US-made jewelry (and paintings). 

Fashion

Bolts of fabric transformed into comfortable wearables, what an idea! To be stylish and also small biz friendly, take a gander at these fine fashion brands.

  • NOOWORKS
    Woman-owned, women-run apparel business selling limited edition US-made clothing.
  • STATE
    Woman-owned business with responsibly sourced and organic materials, sewn in the US.
  • WASI CLOTHING
    Owned and operated by a woman of color with a focus on Bolivian style and culture. 

Books

If not for the written word, we’d have to rely solely on the oral tradition for stories. Recalling the story of Moby Dick via a long game of telephone isn’t going to do it for me. Luckily, we have printed characters on paper and some amazing independent booksellers can ship them to you.

  • Powell's Books
    Family-owned and operating in Portland since 1971, it is the world's largest independent bookstore.
  • Bookshop
    A fellow B Corp and online bookstore that supports independent bookstores all over the US. Over 75% of profits go to independent bookstores or you can choose a specific store to receive the full profit.

Subscription box

When you need a monthly surprise, subscribe! There are so many subscription boxes these days, but here are a couple worth your time and money.

  • Frank And Oak
    Sustainable apparel brand and B Corp that offers a personal styling monthly subscription.
  • Armoire
    Woman-owned women’s clothing rental subscription service (with option to buy).

Bags

Hands are cool but they can only carry so much. Enter bags, a novel concept that allows you to carry many things without those things all being in your hands. Here are bag vendors for you to check out, so as to free up your hands.

  • Neva Opet
    Handmade leather bags crafted in small batches in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • BAGGU
    Ethically and sustainably-made bags.
  • HOZEN
    Sustainable and vegan bags, pouches, and clutches, all made in the US.
  • Jill and Joey
    Sustainable brand selling reusable bags and bottles, started by a group of fathers. Also have a recycling program for their products.  

Mugs for travel

The classic home mug is great and all but sometimes you have to get out of the house. With travel mugs, your beverage sipping is no longer relegated to the confines of your home. Don’t just search ‘travel mug’ and buy the first one you see. Buy from one of these places instead.

  • Stojo
    Collapsible and reusable silicone containers, FDA and LFGB certified and made via strict Progressive Manufacturing requirements. Member of 1% for the Planet.
  • HuskeeCup
    Reusable and sustainable coffee cups produced from waste coffee husks. 

Housewares

There is always something your home needs to feel homier. Whatever that thing is, we’re calling it housewares. Spruce up the place with any number of cool and useful things from the following small businesses.

  • 6th and Detroit
    WOC-owned vintage shop that offers rentals.
  • Mamakea
    Vintage home decor Etsy shop.
  • Made Trade
    Woman-owned, family-run home goods brand featuring sustainable and ethically made products. 1% for the Planet.
  • Newly
    B Corp selling home goods made from 100% recycled or repurposed materials. 1% for the Planet.
  • Our Place
    Ethically made kitchenware products sourced responsibly.

Skincare

That outermost layer of protection we call skin is the largest human organ. Let’s treat it like the organ royalty it is by slathering it with fine creams and oils. Here are some great stores to start (or continue) your skincare regimen.


Snacks

The anytime meal—snacks! Whether salty, crunchy, sweet, sour, or a combination of those, snacks are humanity’s most exciting treat. The boundaries of what can be called a ‘snack’ are nebulous and we like it that way. We’ve got some snack sellers here that know their way around this most hard to define meal.

  • Sockerbit
    Scandanavia-inspired candy shop. No GMOs, trans fats, or high fructose corn syrup.
  • Compartes Chocolates
    LA-based crafter of US-made gourmet chocolates.
  • Theo Chocolate
    Seattle-based organic and fair trade chocolate company.
  • Mouth
    Snacky subscriptions, gift boxes, and food from independent artisanal small batch makers throughout the US.
  • Danny Macaroons
    New York-based coconut macaroon shop. Organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO.
  • The Salty Road
    Woman-owned saltwater taffy company, made with natural ingredients and sea salt in NYC.

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