TPG’s picks for Small Business Saturday holiday shopping

Nov 28, 2020

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American Express held the first Small Business Saturday on Nov. 27, 2010, with the goal was to use the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to #shopsmall and put the spotlight on small businesses during the holidays.

During the 10th annual Small Business Saturday, held on Nov. 30, 2019, data reported that U.S. shoppers spent a record $19.6 billion at independent retailers and restaurants, according to the 2019 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey from American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Related: Holiday gift guide: TPG’s 18 travel-friendly picks for 2020

I’m blessed to be surrounded by some really great small businesses in my city of Baltimore, such as Charm City ChocolateEjji Ramen (where I get my fill of authentic Japanese ramen), B. Willow for plants and plant care and Namascents Candle Co.

Although I’m a big supporter of all small businesses, this year, I’m focusing on women- and minority-owned businesses. So check out my curated list of 11 small businesses that sell items that would make wonderful holiday gifts for friends and family — or as a treat for you.

Related: Use the right card when shopping at local small businesses

In This Post


This $15 stainless steel rainbow tray is a great option for storing small things. (Photo courtesy of Yowie)

Founded by Shannon Maldonado, Philadelphia-based Yowie is a home and lifestyle shop focused on curating small collections from friends, independent artists, and designers. Collections cover newness, eating and drinking, decor for objects, homes for plants, paper and art, textiles and soft things and smells. With prices starting at $8.00, there’s something for everyone at this shop.

Kew and Willow Books

(Photo courtesy of Kew & Willow Books)

I have been a fan of books since almost birth. I also love the uniqueness and service you can only get in an independent bookstore. I thank my Bankrate colleague Zach Wichter for pointing out this gem, based in Kew Gardens, Queens in New York City. Not only can you browse books on the website, you can order “A Book Lover’s Care Package,” where you can set your budget and the store’s staff will curate books based on preferences. They will then ship the books to you or loved ones across the U.S. Nice, right?

Effie’s Paper Stationery & Whatnot

(Screenshot courtesy of Effie’s Paper)

TPG friend and travel writer Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon (aka @JetSetSarah) told me about this online Black female-owned business, founded by Kalyn Chandler, that’s a lifestyle brand catering to women. Her site sells everything from premium stationery to travel accessories. I’m someone who hates taking a full-sized wallet when I travel. So I’d consider buying this credit card wallet (in Jetsetter, Global Nomad and Wanderlust) for my next trip. This $35 card holder, made of Saffiano leatherette, has four credit card slots, and an opening at the top to hold bills.

The Abingdon Co. Watches

I own the Amelia watch, in black. (Photo courtesy of The Abingdon Co.)

This company, the brainchild of CEO Abingdon Mullin, sells quality watches for adventurous women involved in flying, scuba diving, base jumping, motocross and race car driving and shooting – nontraditional activities done by women. Her watches compete with famous male-focused aviation brands including Bell & Ross, Breitling, Casio and Garmin. The goal was to create watches for women that were professional, but also classy and colorful. My Amelia watch, at $375, has dual time zones with a date window and an E6B Flight Calculator, plus the ability to divide, multiply, convert currency, and standard to metric. You can also buy stylish bands to change the look of your watch.

Very That

Buy this cool Tia mug for $18. (Photo courtesy of Very That)

Founder Cristina Martinez, from the south side of San Antonio, Texas, spent summers in Mexico with her Tias, which serves as the inspiration for her colorful collection, including t-shirts, face masks, mugs, stickers, phone cases, stationery, tote bags, jewelry and more. For those on a budget, there’s a whole section of items that are $5 or less — like a Golden Girls palm sticker for $3.00.

Harlem Candle Co.

Enjoy scents inspired by entertainer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker and poet and social activist.Langston Hughes. (Screenshot courtesy of The Harlem Candle Co.)

I was always fan of scented candles, but the pandemic has now made them an important part of my self-care program. TPG Points, Miles, and Deals Reporter Victoria Walker told me about this luxury candle company, founded by travel and lifestyle expert Teri Johnson. The scents are inspired by Johnson’s love affair with fragrance, jazz, and Harlem, honoring notable Harlem residents and neighborhoods. Aside from candles, the company also sells reed diffusers and room sprays.

BLK & Bold

If you like strong coffee, check our BLK & Bold’s dark roast. (Photo courtesy of BLK & Bold)

This Des Moines, Iowa-based coffee company’s co-founders, Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson, grew up together in Gary, IN. They created BLK & Bold in 2018 after leaving careers in higher education fundraising and retail merchandising, according to Fortune. They sell coffees, including Steeped Coffee: Limu, Ethiopia – single-origin and Light Roast and Rise & GRND – coffee blend, medium roast. BLK & Bold also sells teas, such as turmeric spice caffeine-free, Moroccan mint green tea and hibiscus citrus herbal tea. Credit Cards Reporter Madison Blancaflor is a fan, buying her coffee at the local Target store in Charlotte, N.C. Buy yours at independently owned restaurants and coffee shops across the U.S., along with Amazon Prime, and select Target and Whole Foods Markets.


This $90 large hemmed silk/cotton scarf is printed with natural, non-toxic dyes by 5th generation master printers in Bagru. (Photo courtesy of Solare)

Owners Angela Hodgkinson and Blakely Hiner opened Solare in 2017 after wanting to put the spotlight on women artists and designers also trying to connect with women on a more intentional level. With their backgrounds in interior design and the New York City fashion world, Hiner and Hodgkinson created a brand that sells natural bath and beauty products, candles, homewares and apparel. The site has a special holiday section with gifts under $25, $50 and $150.

StacyMaui Cookies

(Photo courtesy of StacyMaui Cookies)

I know Stacy Small, the owner of StacyMaui cookies, as the founder of Elite Travel and the editorial director of Elite Traveler magazine. Although she’s still doing personal travel consultations (use her to book that dream luxury trip), she has moved over to her cookie company, which bakes what she calls “the BEST gluten-free, grain-free, vegan chocolate-chip cookies on the planet.” The recipe was developed by Small, who is a self-described cookie-loving celiac with food allergies, including dairy, eggs, wheat — plus she also went grain-free. None other than Food Network celebrity chef and host Scott Conant said about Small’s cookie, “SO GOOD. These cookies are delicious! Such a great guilt-free snack.” You can have a limited edition tin of a dozen or two dozen cookies shipped to you on the mainland. Aloha!

Humming Bird Macarons & Desserts

Have a box of a dozen macarons with your pick of 14 flavors shipped to you for $27.50, plus shipping, from Hummingbird. (Photo courtesy of Hummingbird Macarons & Desserts)

This company, based in Norfolk, Va., gets raves not only for great traditional macarons but for its delectable desserts. Check out chocolate chip cookies, an apple tart or the decadent, custom-made Chocolate Obsession cake, a chiffon cake layered with chocolate buttercream, Dulce de Leche brownie pieces, covered outside in chocolate buttercream. Cakes start at $45.

Be A Good Person

You can buy this t-shirt for $34. (Photo courtesy of Be A Good Person)

The goal of this Denver-based apparel company, founded in 2015, is to remind people to approach every day with an optimistic, positive and refreshed outlook. To that end, co-founders Darian Simon and Julian Donaldson have put their eponymous phrase on items including shirts, beanies, face masks, accessories and more. The company has even partnered with Lululemon on workout clothing.

Bottom line

So there you have it — my list of small businesses you should consider when it comes time for holiday gift-giving. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on this particular segment of U.S. business. Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, so it only makes sense to support them as we slowly recover.

Related: The best cards for holiday purchases

Featured photo courtesy of Getty Images

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