Avoid parking lots and shopping malls for Black Friday and beyond. Instead, preserve your mental and physical health by shopping small and contributing to your local economy for the holidays this year.
In addition to presumed health benefits, shopping local ensures that nearly 70 cents on every dollar remains in the local economy. When you shop small, you help to build a better local economy, reduce environmental impact, put your taxes to good use, create jobs, get better customer service, keep the community unique, and you encourage local prosperity. Whew—that’s a lot of good!
It is extremely important to share some of our favorite local businesses and gift ideas, as well as encourage everyone to Shop Small on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday*, and beyond (holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, and more).
Gifts and Retail
Can’t decide what you want to give, but want to provide a number of local options? Check out the Queen City Card, which features dozens of participating restaurants, drinkeries, shops, markets, hotels, experiences, museums, and more. Click here to buy yours and to see a complete list of participating merchants.
In addition to its OTR location, the Columbus-based retro and vintage sports clothier, HOMAGE, also calls Liberty Center home. HOMAGE always has great deals after the holiday, so keep your eye out to support local for Small Business Saturday.
If you’ve got any music lovers in your life, treat them to analog tunes courtesy of Everybody’s Records, Plaid Room Records, or Shake It Records. For home decor, visit Wildfire Hygge Goods, High Street, and Sara’s House. If you have a loved one with a green thumb, consider a plant from Frond or a local nursery, the gift of classes from The Budding Florist or Fern, or even a flower or plant subscription to Sadie Blossoms.
Peruse gifts at MiCA 12/v, a local art, fine craft, and design-based gift shop in OTR. Additional apparel, gift, and accessory shops include BlaCk Owned Outerwear, Buff City Soap, The Candle Lab, Cincy Shirts, Corporate, Handzy Shop + Studio, Hi-Bred, Inspired Fashion, Jet Black Vintage, Junebug Jewelry Designs, Koch Sporting Goods, Manitou Candle Co., Originalitees, Queen City Alchemy, REKKIE, Rivertown Inkery, Wolfpack, Yellow Dahlia Candle Co., and many more.
For the readers, peruse the Ohio section of local reads and goods or buy a book written by a local author from Joseph-Beth Booksellers, or head to Downbound Books in Northside for books, games, or stationery. Some favorite local books include SENATE: Street & Savory, a cookbook by local chef, Daniel Wright; The Cincinnati Anthology, edited by Zan McQuade; and Walking Cincinnati, a guide to urban hikes in many of Cincinnati’s historic neighborhoods. For any Queen City lovers in your life, a subscription to Cincinnati Magazine is an excellent option.
Head to Findlay Market for one of their many events, a free tour, retail goods, or for Tablespoon Cooking Co. classes. Like food? Check out a Cincinnati Food Tour, kitchenware at Artichoke, everyday gourmet or boutique catering options through The Passion Plate, or serve up a gift to the award-winning The Cooking School at Jungle Jim’s.
Shop ethically and sustainably at Flora Lee Naturals (garden-based skincare), Deerhaus Decor (sustainable general store), zero waste refillery Fill More Waste Less, or by buying a gift card to organic, natural Spruce Nail Shop (nail and skin services). You can also stop by &Sundries, a handcrafted soapworks and home goods maker, for the bath and body lover in your life.
For the Kids
King Arthur’s Court Toys, Learning Express Toys and Gifts, and Stoney Village Toy Shoppe all purvey toys and games for young people of all ages, including STEAM toys, board games, puzzles, and so much more.
Gumdrop, a shop for tots (and sister store to Handzy Shop + Studio), is located in Covington and purveys beautiful and thoughtful goods, such as apparel, toys, and games. Hutch Baby, an upscale, sustainable children’s boutique from NB to youth sizes 14–16, is located on Vine Street in OTR.
You can also head to O’Bryonville for LilyPad, where you engage children through purposeful play, classes, parties, and other events; Northside to enjoy an afternoon or make a donation on behalf of your gift recipient at Happen, Inc.; give a membership to The Play Library in OTR, where, you can Play & Borrow (and Play it Forward!) with a monthly or yearly subscription, or by buying playdates in bulk; give the gift of language to play dates and classes (including virtual options) through Spanish Play Dates; or purchase a membership or gift card to Happy Hangout, an indoor play space on the westside.
Markets and Craft Fairs
Patronize local and regional vendors and local food trucks at Cincinnati’s famed urban flea market, The City Flea (Holiday Market December 11) as well Art on Vine in November and December and Crafty Supermarket. The latter will be back in the Music Hall Ballroom featuring dozens of makers—local and regional—on November 26.
More area craft shows and various flea markets can be found here.
If you’re looking to give the gift of local art, ideas include James Billiter (letterpress, woodcut, greeting cards, cross stitch, etc.), Janneke Beuerlein Art (abstract visual artist), Gee Horton (hyperrealist visual artist), Christen Collins Art, and Ellebrux, (jewelry, fine art, and handmade gifts). Work by James Billiter and Ellebrux can be found at The City Flea and various shops in greater Cincinnati. You can also have alpdesign create a custom home illustration, support local institution Rookwood Pottery, or give the gift of classes to Queen City Clay.
Fabulous Frames & Art is not only the world’s largest Charley Harper dealer, it also features custom framing and Rookwood and Cincinnati gifts. Visit one of their four Cincinnati locations to see their goods.
If you’ve got someone in your life interested in musical arts, give the gift of music lessons through Cincinnati School of Music, which has options for all ages. You can also give the experience of painting at Color Me Mine in Crestview Hills, Not Your Average Paint & Sip class, or youth classes and workshops through Liberty Exhibition Hall.
Our four-legged friends are family and, thus, we like to spoil them as such. I recommend doing so at Argos All-Natural Pet Food and Supply, Findlay Market, Fuzzybutts Dry Goods, Jungle Jim’s Market, or by finding your neighborhood Pet Wants. For a complete list of community vendors where Brewhaus Dog Bones are sold, click here.
Experiences, Not Things
Give the gift of wonder from the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, EnterTRAINment Junction, Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, Kings Island, Coney Island, Newport Aquarium, or Madcap Education Center.
For the 21+ crowd, consider giving a Cincy Brew Bus, Brewing Heritage Trail, or an American Legacy Tours tour; creating a custom six pack at Higher Gravity or Root Cellar; picking up a hard-to-find bomber from Cappy’s; or attending a beer or wine tasting at Jungle Jim’s Market or Marty’s Hops and Vines.
Check out one of Cincinnati’s excellent museums in the Cincinnati Museum Center, Taft Museum of Art, National Underground Railround and Freedom Center, Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati, Harriet Beecher Stowe House, Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati Observatory, or give a membership for a loved one to the American Sign Museum. (General admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum, 21c Museum Hotel, Contemporary Arts Center, Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, and the William Howard Taft National Historic Site is free.)
Celebrate Cincinnati’s robust arts scene with a show at the Aronoff Center, Know Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati POPS Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, or the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. Memorial Hall’s Longworth-Anderson Series features Grammy Award-winning talent in a “perfect jewel” of a theater.
Want to give the gift of fitness while supporting community? Consider giving a Y membership. Looking for an adventure? Full Throttle Adrenaline Park has a rage room, virtual reality, go-karting, axe throwing, and paint ball all in one fun-filled destination. Similarly, the OTR Funplex has a smash room, paint splatter room, karaoke, escape room, slime making room, cocktail/mocktail crafting, and more. Gifts cards are available to both.
Instead of buying more things, I recommend getting a gift card to a small business or restaurant so that they can try a new place or patronize a favorite. A gift card may not seem fun, but I assure you that they are practical!
You can also consider a tea sampler from Churchill’s Fine Teas; coffee beans and a mug from a local coffee shop or roaster such as Coffee Emporium, Deeper Roots, and Urbana Cafe; or spices from Colonel De’s in Findlay Market.
Treat yourself or a loved one to to a spa day at 21c Museum Hotel or The Woodhouse Day Spa; retreat getaway, fitness event, empowerment workshop, or social with The Beauty Boost; professional makeup and medspa services for skincare, lips, lashes, and brows at Omega Beauty; or medusa services with Victory Wellness MedSpa or Pure Vive Med Spa. Savannah’s Hyde Away offers massage services and has a Black Friday deal of 10% off all gift cards through November 28. (Use code blackfriday at checkout.)
Let the Metro, fare free Connector, Red Bike, or an electric scooter connect your trip to shops, restaurants, parks, and drinkeries when you spend time in the urban core this holiday season!
*Small Business Saturday is on November 26, 2022 and it is an initiative to shop small and to support local businesses. In fact,“For every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $73 remains in the local economy.”
Written by: Linsey Kraeling – Woman, wife, and mother about town, proud millennial, and lifelong Cincinnatian with an invested interest in community involvement and having a full plate—literally and figuratively. Follow along with and read more about eating like a sophisticated six-year-old, supporting local, and acting like a tourist in her own city at instagram.com/linsinnati and tourdecincinnati.com.