Can it be that time of year again? If Thanksgiving didn’t already turn into a mass market sales frenzy (there’s a rant somewhere in there!), then December certainly does. Regardless of the buying bonanza, it’s still important to keep things real, wholesome, and meaningful—even when shopping. One of the ways that I do that in my own life is by supporting small businesses whenever possible.

The city where I live boasts one health food store on the corner of Main Avenue called A-1 Nutrition. I had to ask the lovely owner, June Neblung, why supporting small business is important in her experience. Here’s what she told me via email.

“On one hand, it’s personal, of course!  My mother opened our store in the 70’s at a time when few people were seeking alternative health.  She was a pioneer in the industry, and I am so grateful to be following in her footsteps.  My  father left the big company he worked for in the 80’s (HomeLite) to also start his own business, which my brother now runs.  For me, there is a sense of pride that goes along with continuing the family business. Second, I am deeply affected when I see empty store fronts on ‘Main Street’ of any given town.  The ‘Mom and Pops’ truly offer something special and without that, a part of Americana is lost.  When  people don’t support their local shops and thus, there are empty storefronts, the town slowly loses its appeal and the value of their homes go down.”

What really gets to me about June’s words is that shopping small affects a bigger picture.  Clearly, there are a number of key reasons why this is a value. It’s also why I teamed up with Elizabeth Taylor, a small business owner of True Beauty Brooklyn, to put together a #GivingTrueBeauty Event to usher in the gift-giving season. Here are a few of my own reasons why I love giving my support to small brands, plus more info on the event.

  • Our dollars make a real difference. When it comes to mom and pop stores and small companies, it’s clear where our spending goes. We’re buying from people—not large conglomerates with no faces. These dollars not only pay off loans and bills, they also go toward growing and improving the business, as well as on product development.
  • The owners take the time to get to know us and care about what we need.  Whether it’s a hard-to-find remedy or a balm to soothe skin, these small biz owners take the time to find the products that will work for us. I love interacting with brand-owners because they have a vested interest in their customers and sincerely want to help out. In a larger store, you are one body among many. It sort of feels like conveyer belt shopping.
  • Our customer loyalty matters. Most larger stores have no idea if I have endorsed them, shopped from them, or if it has been a year since I’ve crossed their doors. When I enter June’s store, I’m greeted by friends every time I walk in. It kinda conjures up cries of “Norm!” every time he walked into the bar on the ’80s sitcom Cheers, doesn’t it? I wanna go where everybody knows my name.
  • Keeping the little shops alive means sustaining a neighborhood. June said it too. Thriving stores enhance the quality of the neighborhood. Period.
  • Discover what makes the brand/store unique. Every time that I interact with the founder or owner of a store, I find out their expertise, knowledge, research, and how much blood, sweat, and tears went into creating their line. This inspires my loyalty time and time again. I’m buying from a person. And that matters.

Invitation to #GivingTrueBeauty

That’s why I’m super excited to be teaming up with Elizabeth for a night of “Giving True Beauty” in Brooklyn this Thursday at her lovely boutique. Her store is brimming with artisanal brands that are not only made in the USA—many are also local to her shop!

Melanie Herring, an herbalist and aesthetician, will be using many products by the featured vendors in her mini-facials at the event.

Here’s what she had to say about small business:

“Behind every independent store window is a dreamer with a story to tell and heart full of hope and daring. And every time we cross the threshold into a small business, we create an opportunity to connect with someone who teaches us what it means to work hard and follow your dreams.  A light post into the realm of possibility.”

Aren’t those gorgeous words?! I can’t wait to meet her. Here’s the official invitation, so do consider yourself invited.

It truly makes a difference when I have the opportunity to interact with the founder of a brand. If anything inspires customer loyalty, it is discovering the person behind the line—and getting to know the wisdom, experience, research, and, often, gracious nature of the person who created it. Generally, that is a treasured outcome when shopping small business. On Thursday, FIVE (and possibly more!) brand owners will be attending. It’s a fabulous lineup and I can’t wait to meet these rising stars. I’m already a fan of the fabulous KENZA International Beauty and Mullein & Sparrow ranges and have yet to discover the other lines. (FYI, Oille Natural is slated for a forthcoming GQ Mag. feature). Here’s a pictorial glimpse at some of them.

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Elizabeth’s shop boasts niche brands that are chic and trendy like Mighty Real Skin, Priti NYC, Java Skin Care, Goldie’s Natural Beauty, and more.

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Guests will have a rare opportunity to create a bespoke natural scent with Hi Wildflower Botanica. I fell hard for the solid fragrances (shown above) encased in an exotic handcrafted beaded box that would make gorgeous keepsakes for yourself or someone special in your life.

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Decorative, hand-poured candles created by Hi Wildflower Botanica burn clean and smell incredible.

I found this on the HI WILDFLOWER website and felt it gave a window into this hip brand:

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Plus guests will be able to purchase an assortment of small, travel-sized collections of many of the brands. These make great gifts or trial sizes to sample how the products work.

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Donna Gomirato, founder of The Little Greenhouse NY and formulator of Woods Organic Botanicals, will be creating bespoke skincare blends with her nutrient-dense serums that contain at their base several nourishing oils that support the skin. Priti NYC will have a manicurist on site to prep those gorgeous nails for a night on the town with their 5-free polishes.

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I’m very excited to share this event with all of you and thank you for your ongoing support of my lil ole blog too! I value you and our interactions as well. It makes my day! Hope to see you on Thursday.